Executive Director Message

StuartKlein.pngWe are very fortunate that 12 years ago, before we were even open, a benefactor stepped forward to establish the Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic, a golf tournament to raise money for our clinical research program. We rely on the proceeds from this charitable event to supplement our research budget. Here is an example of why funding research is so important.

Recently we published a study on breast cancer that initially only had funding for 12 patients, but needed to expand to 18 to allow an even number of left-sided and right-sided breast cancer patients to enroll in the study. We reallocated funds from our operating budget to make it possible to expand the study. This research led to the discovery of critical evidence that proton therapy spares all patients’ hearts and lungs from large doses of radiation. If it were not for the additional funds, this important discovery may have been delayed, or worse, may have never happened.

I hope you will consider supporting our research program this year through sponsoring or participating in the 12th annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic.


Stuart L. Klein

Study: Proton therapy effectively targets breast cancer with curative radiation doses while nearly eliminating radiation to the heart

By Theresa Edwards Makrush

Proton vs photon dose_0.jpgResearchers at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute have reported that for women with breast cancer, proton therapy can significantly reduce and in some cases nearly eliminate the dose to the heart, even when the lymph nodes overlying the heart need to be treated. In addition, proton therapy may reduce the exposure of the lung by 30 percent to 50 percent and provide better dose coverage to the lymph node regions as compared with conventional radiation.

These early results are from a pilot study conducted at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and published last month. Initial Report of a Prospective Dosimetric and Clinical Feasibility Trial Demonstrates Potential of Protons to Increase the Therapeutic Ratio in Breast Cancer Compared with Photons. (May 2016, International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics)

Eighteen women, nine with left-sided breast cancer and nine with right-sided breast cancer, were enrolled in the prospective study and followed for 20 months by lead researcher Julie A. Bradley, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute and faculty member at the University of Florida College of Medicine’s Department of Radiation Oncology.

In every patient, the proton plan was superior to the conventional plan in reducing the amount of radiation to the heart and lungs.

To learn more, click to read an interview with Dr. Bradley about the study.

Survivor Spotlight: Proton alum and teammates win national title at USTA Championship

Suprise 11_0.jpg
National Champions Tennis 8.0 Seniors. Honored to play with these guys! An Undefeated Team in 16 Matches. Pictured from l to r: Dickie Anderson, Howard Rugaber, Randy Scott, Mark Levy, Jimmy Parker, Joe Simon, not pictured Ron Hale

A recreational tennis player since his thirties, proton alum (2009) Howard Rugaber didn’t expect that at age 66 he would be a national champion. But, to his surprise, he and his doubles teammates rose through the ranks to win the National USTA 8.0 championships held in Surprise, Ariz., in April.

“I was asked to be on the team in June of last year,” said Howard who lives in St. Simons Island, Ga., where he owns and operates a landscaping company. “A friend of mine who I play tennis with from Columbus, Ga., was putting together a team to beat the other GA teams in the state tournament. When he asked me, I said, ‘I don’t play much doubles, but I’ll be happy to be on the team.’ I learned a lot on the way.”

The way ended up being a state tournament win in Savannah, Ga., that led to a regional tournament win in Dothan, Ala., ending in the national title win in Arizona.

Howard said the team practiced hard between tournaments to be ready for the competitions. Judging by their athletic achievement, you would never know that some of the players had previously had knee replacements, hip replacements, and proton therapy for prostate cancer.

When Howard was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he talked to friends and a fellow tennis player about it and they told him about their success in beating the disease with proton therapy at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute. As a University of Florida alum, it was an easy decision for him to have proton therapy in Jacksonville. 

“I was very fortunate. I was kind of a poster child for all the treatments. I had no negatives associated with it,” Howard said. Even with a three-hour round-trip commute to receive daily treatment he maintained his regular schedule. “I worked every day, and I played tennis almost every day. I didn’t really get tired like some people do who get radiation.”

More than six years post-treatment, Howard and his wife Trish, whom he met while in college at UF, enjoy spending long weekends in the Jacksonville area at the beaches in Ponte Vedra and playing tennis with friends.

Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® registration is now open

We invite you to register as a sponsor or player at the 12th Annual Play Golf. Fight Cancer.® Classic: October 9-10, 2016. The event will take place at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla. A celebratory dinner and silent auction will take place on October 9, 6 p.m., at the World Golf Village Renaissance Hotel. Golf will be played October 10 on both the Slammer & Squire and King & Bear courses. Registration begins on course at 7 a.m. An awards party will be held at the Slammer & Squire Clubhouse immediately following play.

For information on sponsorships and tickets, please visit www.playgolffightcancer.org

The research program at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute

For an overview of the research program, how it works and why it matters, we invite you to watch this online video.

About This Newsletter

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.


Keep In Touch

It is easy to stay in touch with us online at floridaproton.org . Look at the top right corner of the homepage for Facebook , Twitter and YouTube icons, click and join us in the social media conversation. Also on the right side of the homepage there is a button for VTOC Patient Portal . Click here to open your secure account, view your records, complete clinical trial questionnaires and communicate with your nurse case manager.


Knowing how you are feeling during and after treatment is essential to providing you the best care possible and contributes to the care of future patients.