Proton Cancer Therapy

Thursday, June 23, 2011 - 9:08am

New treatment may be available soon for the most common form of cancer in women.

A new treatment may be available soon for the most common form of cancer in women: breast cancer. A recent patient trial successfully used precision radiation therapy using what's called a 'proton beam', and it had virtually no side effects.

Five years ago, Vickie Reeves was diagnosed with breast cancer. Reeves says she was faced with very difficult decisions. How would she treat her illness and would she survive!?

Vickie says "I've always felt that breast cancer was a disease for another person, not myself."

Ironically, Reeves worked at a breast health center where women were being diagnosed every day with the disease.

Vickie says "I had spoken with my cardiologist. Maybe I should consider a radiation too close to my heart."

That's when Reeves heard about a clinical study being done at Loma Linda's proton treatment center for early stage breast cancer patients. Proton beam therapy allows doctors to radiate "just" the tumor area, instead of the whole breast.

Dr. David Bush says "standard radiation, there's no stopping the beam. What protons will do, penetrate to a certain depth and then stop."

Dr. David Bush is a cancer researcher who says recurrence numbers have been low with survival rates pushing 90%. Most importantly, doctors say side effects diminished in the patients that took part in the study. Injury to the heart, lungs and chest area from radiation was reduced significantly.

Dr. Mark Reeves says "compared to typical whole breast radiation that was given for breast cancer, two weeks, excellent cancer outcomes."

Vickie says "I have been free of cancer for five years and I'm doing very well."

Researchers have now begun work on a second trial of 100 patients using the proton beam technology.

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