Proton therapy has been used for more than 30 years to treat children. Proton therapy is most commonly used in pediatric tumors of the brain and spine, such as medulloblastoma, ependymoma, germ cell tumors, and low grade gliomas, but it can be beneficial in any tumor that arises in close proximity to vital structures like the heart, lung, kidneys, and reproductive organs. The Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first proton center to open in Tennessee and will join the University of Florida Proton Institute as the only two centers in the southeast treating pediatric patients.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Matt Ladra, MD, Pediatric Radiation Oncologist and Director of Pediatric Services, discusses the benefits of treating certain pediatric cancers with proton beam therapy.
Each year in the US there are more than 10,000 new cases of pediatric cancer, and roughly 1/3 of these children will require radiation therapy. Radiation is an extremely effective form of treatment and in many cases provides the only option for cure. This is especially true for tumors that arise from the bones, muscles, and organs of children, termed “solid tumor cancers.” Unfortunately, radiation can inhibit the normal growth and development of the uninvolved areas surrounding these tumors, and therefore minimizing the amount of excess radiation delivered is of the utmost importance to pediatric radiation oncologists.
Proton therapy is a wonderful tool for treating children in whom radiation therapy is indicated. The physical properties of protons significantly reduce the radiation dose delivered to healthy tissue and organs, often by 2-3 times what would be delivered with conventional radiation. Since the brains and bodies of children are still developing and growing, this translates into fewer long-term side effects and an improved quality of life moving forward after treatment. With advances in surgical techniques, chemotherapy, and radiation delivery, close to 70% of all children with solid tumor cancers will be long-term survivors. Therefore, the incorporation of techniques that can minimize side effects, such as proton therapy, into pediatric cancer treatment is now more important than ever.
Proton therapy has been used for more than 30 years to treat children. Previously, proton therapy had only available in a small number of institutions due to the high cost of building and maintaining a center and the difficulty in managing the technology. In the last 10 years, improved proton technology and reduced costs have let to an emergence of new proton centers all over the country. Whereas in 2004 there were only three open centers in the US, today there are currently 14 open centers and many more opening in the near future. Proton therapy is most commonly used in pediatric tumors of the brain and spine, such as medulloblastoma, ependymoma, germ cell tumors, and low grade gliomas, but it can be beneficial in any tumor that arises in close proximity to vital structures like the heart, lung, kidneys, and reproductive organs. The Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first proton center to open in Tennessee and will join the University of Florida Proton Institute as the only two centers in the southeast treating pediatric patients.
Matt Ladra is a Radiation Oncologist and Director of Pediatric Services
Eddie Check® and the Provision Center for Proton Therapy are teaming up for the 10th annual Tennessee vs. Florida blood Drive and FREE PSA screenings. Blood drive and PSA screenings will be offered at 10 different East Tennessee locations across 8 counties on September 18-19.
Unbelievably, one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime – and one in 36 will die from it. Prostate cancer is second only to skin cancer as the most common cancer in American men and second only to lung cancer as the leading cancer-based cause of death in American men. The American Cancer Society estimates that in the U.S. during 2014, about 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed, and 29,480 men will die from it.
But there’s still good news. If prostate cancer is caught early, the 5-year survival rate is nearly 100%. The numbers say it all: Get tested! Prostate cancer is rare before age 40, so if you are 40 or older, the first step is a free, simple PSA screening that only requires a blood sample. “PSA” stands for prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced by prostate cells. The PSA test is done to help diagnose and follow prostate cancer in men. No certain PSA level is called normal or abnormal, and an elevated level does not mean you have prostate cancer – only a biopsy can diagnose cancer. Always discuss PSA test results with your doctor.
In 2004, Rockford-based Nisus Corporation, a manufacturer of products for the professional pest management industry, teamed up with area hospitals and MEDIC Regional Blood Center to create Eddie Check, an annual event that adds free PSA screening for prostate cancer to blood drives. It was a simple strategy using MEDIC’s already existing resources to make it fast and easy for men to get a blood sample drawn for the screening. Nisus has a personal stake in the fight; marketing vice president Jim Gorman is a prostate cancer survivor, while company president Kevin L. Kirkland lost his father, Eddie Kirkland, to the disease. In fact, “Eddie Check” is named for Eddie Kirkland.
This year, Nisus and MEDIC are joined by the Provision Center for Proton Therapy as well as sponsors WIVK FM 107.7, The Sports Animal, NewsTalk 98.7 FM, the Knoxville News Sentinel, Rip Noel Studios (media production) and Abacus Arts, Inc. (web hosting and design).
Eddie Check will be held at six locations on Thursday and seven on Friday (10 different locations) in eight East Tennessee counties including Knox, Anderson, Scott, Hamblen, Cocke, Blount, Roane and McMinn. Blood samples for PSA screening will be taken at every location during all hours, even if you don’t donate blood. This free PSA screening is available for men 40 years of age or older, or in the event of family history at an age 10 years younger than the affected relative’s age at his cancer onset.
Thursday, September 18
- MEDIC Donor Center, 1601 Ailor Ave., Knoxville, 8:00 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Hallerin Hill News/Talk 98.7 FM remote, 5:30-10:00 a.m.; Sports Animal remote, 3:00-7:00 p.m.
- MEDIC Donor Center-Farragut, 11000 Kingston Pike (behind Pittsburgh Paints), Farragut, 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.; Phil Williams News/Talk 98.7 FM remote, 3:00-6:00 p.m.
- Provision Center for Proton Therapy, 1400 Dowell Springs Blvd. Knoxville (Bloodmobile), 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; Gunner WIVK FM remote, 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
- Books-A-Million, 310 S. Illinois Ave., Oak Ridge (Bloodmobile), 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
- Walmart-Morristown, 475 S. Davy Crockett Pkwy., Morristown (Bloodmobile), 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
- Walmart-Oneida, 19740 Alberta St., Oneida (Bloodmobile), 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Friday, September 19
- MEDIC Donor Center, Headquarters, 1601 Ailor Ave., Knoxville, 8:00 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; Phil Williams News/Talk 98.7 FM remote, 3:00-6:00 p.m.
- MEDIC Donor Center-Farragut, 11000 Kingston Pike (behind Pittsburgh Paints), Farragut, 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
- Provision Center for Proton Therapy, 1400 Dowell Springs Blvd., Knoxville (Bloodmobile), 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; Gunner WIVK FM remote, 1-4 p.m.
- Walmart-Newport, 1075 Cosby Hwy., Newport (Bloodmobile), 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
- New Midland Plaza, 232 S. Calderwood St., Alcoa (Bloodmobile), 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
- Lowe’s-Athens, 1751 South Congress Pkwy., Athens (Bloodmobile), 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
- Roane Medical Center, Stower Rotary Community Room. 8045 Roane Medical Center Drive, Harriman, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
On Thursday, don’t miss News/Talk 98.7 FM’s Hallerin Hill from 5:30-10 a.m. and “The Sports Animal from 3-7 p.m at MEDIC on Ailor Ave. Provision Center for Proton Therapy will feature a live remote by WIVK’s Gunner from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and News/Talk 98.7 FM’s Phil Williams will broadcast from MEDIC in Farragut from 3-6 p.m.
On Friday, WIVK’s Gunner will be at Provision Center for Proton Therapy from 1-4 p.m. Phil Williams will be broadcasting from MEDIC on Ailor Ave. from 3-6 p.m.
Free cholesterol screenings and refreshments as well as special Tennessee Vs. Florida “Tail” Gate T-shirts will be provided by MEDIC for all blood donors at all sites. For those men donating blood, a sample for the PSA screening can be taken during donation; however, no blood donation is necessary for the free PSA test alone—only a simple blood sample is needed. MEDIC will draw all samples, which will then be analyzed by an independent laboratory (funded by the Provision CARES Foundation.)
Provision Center for Proton Therapy welcomes pediatric radiation oncologist Matt Ladra, MD, MPH, to the clinical team. Dr. Ladra will serve as Director of Pediatric Services and will treat adults as well.
After growing up in the California bay area, Dr. Ladra received his undergraduate degree in molecular biology from Princeton University and his Medical Doctorate from Tulane University. While at Tulane, Dr. Ladra also earned his Masters in Public Health and completed a year-long research fellowship in conjunction with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, studying and treating pediatric leukemia in Rabat, Morocco. He completed his Radiation Oncology Residency at the University of Washington in Seattle and a two-year Pediatric Proton Fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School.
“Provision has established a proton center with the most advanced technology found anywhere in the world,” said Dr. Ladra. “I am excited to contribute my clinical experience toward providing the highest quality of care to pediatric and adult patients from Eastern Tennessee and beyond.”
Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first proton center to open in Tennessee and will join the University of Florida Proton Institute as the only two centers in the Southeast treating pediatric patients.
Dr. Ladra’s clinical interests include pediatric tumors, tumors of the central nervous system and spine, head and neck malignancies, and soft tissue sarcomas. Outside of the clinic, Dr. Ladra is an avid hiker and fly fisherman and is looking forward to exploring the mountains and rivers of Eastern Tennessee.