Treated 2004 

This is an article written by Sam for a Newsletter and for his local Newspaper. It is entitled, “Sharing My Good Fortune.”

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in July 2003. Two MISGA Associate friends learned of my diagnosis and strongly encouraged me to consider Proton Beam Therapy at Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC) in California. I had investigated hormone therapy, surgery, x-ray radiation, cryo therapy and radioactive seeds. Proton Beam Therapy was new to me and had not been suggested as an option by either my urologist or radiation oncologist. After further research I choose Proton Beam Therapy and I am eternally grateful to those Associates who cared, shared their experiences and "steered me right". Not being presumptuous but I feel strongly that every man in our age group should be aware of this little known but extremely effective treatment.

It is the physics of the proton beam that makes it so attractive and effective for medical use. Protons are heavy charged particles and when accelerated to nearly the speed of light they penetrate the skin without depositing much energy upon entry. Uniquely, the proton beam has a characteristic Bragg Peak. This characteristic allows the beam to be tailored so that the remainder of its energy is deposited very accurately within the target volume, e.g., the prostate. The accuracy of striking the target is better than one millimeter. The beam stops and deposits no energy beyond the target volume.

By contrast, an x-ray beam (similar to light rays) deposits much more energy on entering the body (about 150% of what it deposits on the target). The remaining energy is deposited in the target volume (prostate) and other "normal" tissue as it exits the body.

Proton beams are conformal. This means that they may be shaped in three dimensions so as to deposit the bulk of their energy on the prostate. The proton beam does little damage to surrounding tissue. This is not true of x-rays. To summarize: "Proton Therapy is the most precise form of advanced radiation treatment available for prostate cancer. Because it is so precise it minimizes harm to the surrounding tissue. Treatments are on an outpatient basis, usually allowing the patients to continue their normal activities while experiencing few or no side effects." Other treatment regimens may be accompanied by severe side effects such as impotence, incontinence, bleeding, etc.

In my group at LLUMC there were two patients who had had radical surgery several years ago and due to recurrence were now having Proton Beam Therapy. An important point to remember when treating prostate cancer, it is the cancer that must be gotten rid of and not necessarily the gland. There are important reasons for keeping the gland. The Proton Treatment Center at LLUMC has more that ten years experience in treating prostate cancer. It is the world center of knowledge and experience in treating prostate cancer with proton beams. From my very recent (March 2004) personal experience, I can assure you that the doctors, physicists and medical staff are outstanding in every respect. Put simply, they really care for the patient, are very professional, well organized and expert in what they do. Anyone seeking treatment for prostate cancer should consider Proton Beam Therapy.

During my stay at LLUMC there were about 120 men receiving daily treatment. Seven or eight of us were from Maryland. The remainder came from all over the U.S. and some from overseas. It is noteworthy that most (95% or more) of us had not been told of Proton Beam Therapy by our urologist or radiation oncologist. Most likely you will never learn about Proton Beam Therapy from your physician. You must seek the knowledge for yourself. Here are three good sources available on the Internet.