Pink Ribbon Symposium - Virtual Event
Dr. Raymond Mailhot presenting on Proton Therapy for Breast Cancer
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At this time of year, we set aside time to give thanks for the people who make a difference in our lives. It could be a family member, friend, loved one or someone in our community such as a military veteran, first responder or teacher. We are surrounded by people, seen and unseen, who impact our lives in a positive way every day.
This month we acknowledge our radiation therapists during National Radiologic Technology Week (November 8 - 14). This team of highly skilled professionals delivers exceptional care to patients every day. They expertly operate the proton therapy, IMRT, SBRT, MRI and CT equipment for safe and accurate patient treatment. Their commitment to excellence is recognized in the industry and serves as a model for other proton therapy centers. We are fortunate to have such an experienced team of people trained in proton therapy. For more than seven years, we have been able to treat the maximum number of patients possible because our radiation therapists alternate working two shifts. They're among the first to arrive at 6 a.m. and the last to leave at 11 p.m., or sometimes later. We thank our radiation therapists for their dedicated and compassionate care.
On behalf of everyone at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, I wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Stuart L. Klein
By Theresa Edwards Makrush
Helping military veterans and their spouses navigate the Veterans Affairs medical system is a service that Joe Solsona has developed into a nonprofit organization called National Association Veterans & Families - Veterans Support Center. It started in 2008 when his aunt needed homecare and was having difficulty applying for VA benefits. Through that experience, he discovered a tremendous need for help among veterans in similar situations.
"We didn't realize there was such a huge void," said Joe. "It has morphed into something that is much huger than I could have imagined." Since formalizing the nonprofit and becoming accredited with the VA to provide the service to veterans and spouses, the NAVF has handled 30,000 claims and has had only two claims denied. The organization regularly has referrals from the offices of local U.S. congressmen and attorneys to handle claims for Agent Orange, PTSD, homecare and assisted living.
When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014, Joe applied his health care system navigation skills to his own case. He talked to men who had been treated for prostate cancer, including two physicians he knew, who told him about having robotic surgery, brachytherapy, and radiation. He weighed the pros and cons of each treatment and chose proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute because, he said, it had similar effectiveness in controlling the cancer but with fewer side effects.
Following hormone therapy, in February 2015 he started eight weeks - 39 treatments - of proton therapy. While on treatment Joe said he experienced fatigue and cut back on the number of hours he worked, going from 14 hours to about seven hours a day. He also noticed that he was more sensitive to the hot weather, but he was still able to compete in skeet, though for shorter periods than usual.
Joe, who turns 67 years old next month, had his six-month follow-up appointment the Wednesday before Halloween and is doing well, though is still recovering his energy level. Yet, he is not concerned for himself, but for others who are facing a cancer diagnosis and could benefit from proton therapy. Through his advocacy, a spouse of someone he knows is being treated with protons for breast cancer. "I feel it's very important for the public, veterans and spouses to be aware of what is available," he said.
By Theresa Edwards Makrush
During November, advocacy groups turn our attention to two of the deadliest cancers in the U.S. - lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. Symptoms can be mistaken for other more benign illnesses before lung cancer is diagnosed at a more advanced stage. Pancreas cancer is even more challenging since symptoms typically do not occur until the cancer has spread to other organs.
Treatments are usually a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Radiation is often used following surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells. It is sometimes used before surgery to shrink the size of the tumor. For inoperable (unresectable) tumors, radiation is used with curative, or in some cases palliative, intent.
Early evidence for proton therapy in treating lung and pancreatic cancers suggests that patients can expect similar cure rates to conventional treatment methods, but will experience fewer treatment-related complications. Unlike X-rays, proton beams can be conformed to the size and shape of the treatment area to minimize or avoid damage to surrounding sensitive organs. For lung cancer patients this means a reduced risk of developing treatment-related pneumonia, pain with swallowing, and cardiac disease.3 For pancreatic cancer patients it means a reduced risk of developing treatment-related serious bowel or stomach issues.4
Both small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) are the subject of clinical research at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Recent published articles in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, Clinical Lung Cancer and Acta Oncologica reported on early outcomes of patients following proton therapy for stage II & III NSCLC and limited-stage small cell lung cancer. The researchers concluded that the combination of proton therapy and chemotherapy can provide patients with an aggressive treatment that is less toxic than conventional X-ray radiation.5, 6, 7
Clinical trials open for enrollment to eligible lung cancer patients include one for a shorter treatment approach for stage II & III non-small cell lung cancer and another for a shorter treatment approach for stage I non-small cell lung cancer.
For more information about proton therapy and lung cancer, visit our cancers treated page.
One of the important areas of treatment, clinical trials and study at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute is pancreatic cancer. The goal is to improve patient outcomes for a disease that is often challenging to treat successfully. An article published in the International Journal of Particle Therapy reported early outcomes following proton therapy for patients with pancreatic cancer who were not eligible for surgical removal of the disease due to the position of the tumor. 8
Patients were treated with both chemotherapy and proton therapy. Significantly, the study reports that patients were able to tolerate the treatment well with no severe gastrointestinal side effects during treatment and in the two years following. This suggests that there is an opportunity to safely intensify the treatment, which may lead to improved survival rates. Two clinical trials are currently open to enroll eligible pancreatic cancer patients: postoperative proton therapy in surgically removed (resected) pancreatic cancers; and preoperative proton therapy in pancreatic cancers that can be partially removed (borderline or marginally resectable).
For more information about proton therapy and pancreatic cancer, visit our cancers treated page.
1. Seer Stat Fact Sheets: Lung and Bronchus Cancer. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/lungb.html. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2015.
2. Seer Stat Fact Sheets: Pancreas Cancer. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/pancreas.html. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2015.
3. Image-Guided Proton Therapy for Lung Cancer and Thymoma. http://www.floridaproton.org/sites/default/files/docs/LungCancerFactSheet.pdf Retrieved Nov. 11, 2015.
4. Proton Therapy for Pancreatic Cancer. http://www.floridaproton.org/cancers-treated/pancreatic-cancer. Retrieved Nov. 11, 2015
5. Hoppe BS, Flampouri S, Henderson RH, Pham D, Bajwa AA, D’Agostino H, Huh SN, Li Z, Mendenhall NP, Nichols RC. Proton therapy with concurrent chemotherapy for non-small-cell lung cancer; technique and early results. Clin Lung Cancer. 2012 Sep; 13(5):352-8.
6. Colaco RJ, Huh S, Nichols RC, Morris CG, D’Agostino H, Flampouri S, Li Z, Pham DC, Bajwa AA, Hoppe BS. Dosimetric rationale and early experience at UFPTI of thoracic proton therapy and chemotherapy in limited-stage small cell lung cancer. Acta Oncologica. 2013 Feb; 52(3): 506-13.
7. Hoppe BS, Henderson RH, Pham D, Cury J, Bajwa AA, Morris CG, D’Agostino H, Flampouri S, Huh S, Li Z, McCook B, Nichols RC. A phase II trial of concurrent chemotherapy and proton therapy for stage 3 non-small cell lung cancer: Results and reflections following early closure of a single institution study. Int J Radiation Oncol Biol Phys. Article in press Nov. 8, 2015.
8. Sachsman S, Nichols RC, Morris CG, Zaiden R, Johnson EA, Awad Z, Bose D, Ho MW, Huh SN, Li Z, Kelly P, Hoppe BS. Proton therapy and concomitant capecitabine for non-metastatic unresectable pancreatic adenocarcinoma. International Journal of Particle Therapy. Winter 2014;1(3):692-701. http://www.theijpt.org/doi/abs/10.14338/IJPT.14-00006.1
By Frances Hanold
Last month, Burnie Grill and its founder and CEO Carl Spadaro participated in an afternoon of Halloween fun with us, celebrating his donation of five thousand dollars to the pediatric proton fund. Burnie Grill mascot "Burnie" joined children at the luncheon and handed out dolls of the company's Nordic Viking mascot to trick-or-treaters.
Children deserve the chance to enjoy life and experience holiday activities even though they have been diagnosed with cancer. The mission of the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute for the Children Fund is to remove fear from the treatment process. To achieve this mission, the fund provides support for a child life specialist, Family Fun Night and communal activities, a driver and van transport, and an artist-in-residence.
We thank Burnie Grill and Carl Spadaro for this generous contribution to the programs that will help us achieve our mission of making children as comfortable, free of fear and joyful as possible during their treatment.
Jacksonville Jaguars offensive lineman Zane Beadles is tackling more than opponents on the football field. Through his charitable foundation, The Zane Beadles Parade Foundation (ZBPF), he is also tackling a community project to bring fun, excitement and joy to our pediatric patients and their families.
Now through December 5, Zane is hosting a holiday gift drive at nine Jacksonville area drop-off locations.
People in the community are encouraged to choose an item from the "UF Health Proton Therapy Institute Wish List" and bring it to one of the following locations:
The Zane Beadles Parade Foundation (ZBPF) supports the journey of young people going through life-changing medical experiences. Founded in 2013, ZBPF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that gives the gift of fun, excitement, and joy to young patients and their families. Scientific studies and personal experiences prove that having positive, meaningful experiences significantly improves patients' quality of life, lowers their stress levels, and improves their overall recovery during treatments for serious medical conditions.
To learn more about the Zane Beadles Parade Foundation, please visit zanesparade.org.
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The Precision Newsletter is an electronic-only publication that is distributed by email. Each issue is sent monthly to patients, alumni patients and friends of the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. As the official newsletter of the Institute, the content is compiled and prepared by our communications representative and approved by the editor Stuart Klein, executive director of UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. Special bulletin newsletters may occasionally be prepared when timely topics and new developments in proton therapy occur. If you would like to send a Letter to the Editor, please click here.
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