Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men. The good news is advancements in technology are helping men combat it easier.
Statistics show that about 190,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed and more than 30,000 men die from prostate cancer each year. Despite these alarming statistics, proton therapy is changing the lives of thousands of men affected by this devastating disease.
The success of proton therapy has inspired men with prostate cancer who wish to avoid surgery to pursue proton beam radiation therapy as a possible treatment option. At the Loma Linda University Medical Center's proton treatment facility in Southern California, 82 percent of patients are men and nearly 62 percent have been treated for prostate cancer. That's about 3,500 men.
One former patient who was treated last year for prostate cancer at Loma Linda, Bob Marckini of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, said: "When you undergo treatment at Loma Linda, you experience something very special. There's this remarkable spirit of the people there.
" There's this healthy atmosphere, this special caring nature of the staff and this incredible camaraderie that develops with the other men in treatment, as well as their families. The fear factor is not there. During the treatment process, we go about our daily lives playing golf or whatever."
Men from all over the country and the world are educating themselves about proton therapy and inquiring about treatment.
A great many patients seeking proton therapy treatment at Loma Linda have traveled to Loma Linda from states such as Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Oregon and Florida, with nearly all 50 states plus Puerto Rico represented. Patients have also come from 33 foreign countries, especially Canada, Italy, Germany, France and Taiwan.
Proton therapy is a superior form of external radiation therapy in which high-energy proton particles are delivered by the proton beam to the tumor sites. By shaping the beam to match the shape of the tumor, the physician is able to control the dosage, unlike standard x-ray radiation, and can precisely deliver maximum dosage of the radiation to the targeted area while sparing healthy tissue and surrounding organs. It is the most precise form of radiation treatment available today.
Loma Linda studies in the last ten years shows that the overall disease-free survival rate of proton therapy patients with prostate cancer is 89 percent with fewer risks of side effects commonly associated with X-ray radiation or surgery.
The proton therapy facility at Loma Linda University Medical Center is the first in the world designed to treat patients and conduct research in a hospital setting. It remains the world's largest proton treatment center, treating 140-150 patients per day, with 56 percent of the patients in their 60s. More than 16,000 proton therapy patients have been treated at Loma Linda since it opened in 1990.
Proton beam therapy also effectively treats some 20 different types of tumors, including head and neck areas, rectal, and spinal cancers, gastrointestinal tumors and certain lung cancers. For more information, call 1-800 PROTONS (776-8667) or log onto www.llu.edu/proton .