Monthly Archives

April 2015

Tennessee among states in cancer peril

By | Breast Cancer, Cancer, East Tennessee, Exercise & Nutrition, Screening, South, Tennessee, Uncategorized | No Comments

Tennessee has made its mark on the nation’s cancer map, and it’s not a pretty picture.

The state is among a handful (all in the South) that rank higher, or lower, than the rest of the country when it comes to leading risk factors for the disease, according to a recent report of the American Cancer Society (data illustrated by National Public Radio.) An estimated 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to ACS.

Tennessee leads the nation in rates of obesity and smoking, while trailing in measures that reduce the risk of cancer including exercise and eating healthy foods.

Here are how the statistics break down for the state:

• 24.3% are smokers

• 33.7% are obese

• 37.2% don’t exercise regularly

• 17.6% eat fruit twice daily

• 11.2% eat three vegetables daily

Compare this with Vermont, for example, in which 16.6 percent of the population smokes, 24.7 percent are obese, and just 20.5 percent don’t exercise or California where nearly one-quarter of the population eats the recommended services of vegetables and nearly 40 percent the recommended servings of fruit. (Truth is, there’s room for improvement across the country.)

In addition, many Americans fail to get recommended screenings for common cancer types. In Tennessee, just 56.5 percent of women over the age of 40 had a mammogram in the past year. And only 66.4 percent of both men and women had been tested for colorectal cancer. These screenings often result in early detection of cancer, which increases chances of survival.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to stay this way. Changing lifestyle habits such as adding daily exercise and smoking cessation increases your odds against cancer as well as other lifestyle-related diseases. Find out how to take first steps toward decreasing your cancer risk.

Provision’s 400th patient not just a number

By | Cancer, Culture of Care, Dr. Marcio Fagundes, East Tennessee, Patient Experience, Patient Hospitality, Patient Stories, Prostate Cancer, Proton Therapy, Uncategorized | No Comments

James Fulghum’s completion of prostate cancer treatment today was a celebration not only for him but for Provision Center for Proton Therapy as well—the graduation of its 400th patient.

A surprised grin crossed Fulghum’s face as he was presented him with a special certificate before he rang the graduation bell.

The event marks a “huge milestone” for Provision. The center opened last January and celebrated its 100th patient graduation just eight months ago. Since then, Provision Center for Proton Therapy has opened a third treatment room and seen its patient numbers increase significantly in 2015.

Fulghum, who came for treatment for aggressive prostate cancer from his home in Lebanon, Tenn., learned of proton therapy through his nephew. Founder and principal at civil engineering firm, Fulghum, MacIndoe & Associates, Billy Fulghum worked with Provision in its early days as the company made site design plans for the new treatment facility.

When his uncle was diagnosed with cancer, Billy Fulghum approached him about considering proton therapy as a treatment option.

“The first thing he said was, ‘I’m not going to the Bahamas to do some experimental thing,’” Billy Fulghum said.

But after perusing the Provision website and meeting with Dr. Marcio Fagundes and staff at Provision, James Fulghum was sold.

“(Dr. Fagundes has) been in this business for many years. He’s seen a lot of things,” Fulghum said. “He laid it out in simple terms that I could understand.”

At the end of eight weeks in Knoxville golfing, visiting the mountains, making friends with other patients—two of whom attended his graduation—and experiencing the hospitality and warmth of the Provision employees—from radiation therapists to hospitality coordinators to financial services manager Rhonda Turner—James Fulghum said he’s sad to go.

“I feel like when I walked through the front door this was heaven and these people were angels,” he said. “Even though I’m number 400, I’m not a number in this place.”

 

Provision employee’s invention makes headlines, benefits patients

By | Cancer, Innovation, Patient Experience, Proton Therapy, Uncategorized | No Comments

When radiaton therapist Zach Dutton got tired of cobbling together boxes and construction foam from Lowe’s to assist in making the cradle that holds patients immobile during their proton therapy treatments, he decided to solve the problem himself. With the help of his dad, Greg Dutton, he came up with the Z-box, an innovative frame that holds patients in place while their foam cradles are being poured and solidified around them.

The invention has garnered Dutton local headlines in the Knoxville News Sentinel and Loudon County News-Herald (the Duttons are from Lenoir City) as well as a byline in the Spring issue of the medical journal Radiation Therapist. First prototyping the box in plywood, the father-and-son team then crafted a plastic version of the Z-box that patients now regularly use.

The adjustable frame accommodates patients of varying flexibility—they must hold their arms above their heads during the process—and makes it possible for one technician to carry out the process. Prior to the Z-box, at least two people were needed to help hold the patient in place. As a result, what was once a one-and-a-half to two hour process in making the patient cradles, has been whittled down to 30-45 minutes.

While the device works well for proton therapy patients, it also could be used for conventional radiation therapy in cases where the patient needs to be kept still during treatment.

What motivated Dutton to take on the project? “I’ve always thought we could make things better,” he says.

Proton therapy showcased on Ellen

By | Cancer, Pediatric Cancer, Proton Therapy, Sarcoma, Uncategorized | No Comments

Julie Kramer, famous for her appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last year after being diagnosed with stage 4 synovial sarcoma, returned to the show this week. There she announced she was cancer free following proton therapy treatment. Proton therapy is an ideal treatment option for sarcoma because, when using traditional radiation, the location of these cancers often results in undesirable side effects to important organs such as brain, heart and lungs. Provision Center for Proton Therapy offers proton therapy treatments for both adults and children.

Provision first to adopt hydrogel for prostate patients

By | Clinical Care, Dr. Marcio Fagundes, Prostate Cancer, Proton Therapy, Technology, Uncategorized | No Comments

 

Four patients yesterday received an injection that provides the latest in protection from radiation damage during treatment for prostate cancer.

It’s a hydrogel called SpaceOAR, which when injected inside the body protects vulnerable, healthy tissue in the rectum, which sits adjacent to the prostate, from unwanted doses of radiation. Proton therapy already provides superior outcomes, with notably fewer side effects, to more traditional treatments of surgery or other forms of radiation. The Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first proton therapy center to offer the product.

“The SpaceOAR product provides us with even more ability to keep our patients comfortable and further prevent long-term side effects as a result of their treatment,” said Marcio Fagundes, M.D.

For more information on proton therapy for prostate cancer, call 1-855-566-1600 to speak to one of our Care Coordinators.

Proton Therapy Extremely Effective for Esophageal Cancer

By | Clinical Care, Dr. Allen Meek, Esophageal Cancer, Patient Experience, Patient Stories, Proton Therapy, Uncategorized | No Comments

When Bill Garland learned of his esophageal cancer, he knew nothing about proton therapy except that his doctors highly recommended the treatment. And he fully expected to suffer the same kind of side effects as traditional radiation—fatigue, site burns, loss of appetite. But Garland says he felt good most of the five weeks he underwent proton therapy, even though he was taking chemotherapy at the same time.

“I got the biggest surprise of my life—it didn’t bother me at all,” Garland, 80, says. “At church, there’s five men who’ve got cancer of different kinds. I was almost hesitant to tell them how I really felt, because they felt so bad.”

Garland discovered his cancer after being admitted to the hospital for internal bleeding. A tumor at the base of his esophagus turned out to be the culprit, and Knoxville medical oncologist, Tracy Dobbs, MD, recommended Provision Center for Proton Therapy, where he was treated with protons by Allen Meek, MD, board-certified radiation oncologist. “The esophagus is a difficult organ to treat with radiation therapy since it is so close to the heart, lungs, and spine,” said Dr. Meek. “Proton therapy allows us to only target the cancer cells, sparing surrounding tissues.”

“Because of (other) health issues, he was not going to be a candidate for surgery,” says Inez Garland, Bill Garland’s daughter-in-law, who accompanied him to doctors appointments as well as some of his treatments. “He did exceptionally great with everything,” she says. “He didn’t get nauseated, didn’t have any burns. He never had to get on liquids or anything. The people were so nice, everybody made us feel comfortable,” Inez Garland says.

The treatments ended in October, and Bill Garland is free again to enjoy his life and family of four children, 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“It really worked for me,” he says. “I tell everybody about proton.”

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, Provision is here to help. Please call 1-855-566-1600 to speak with one of our Care Coordinators or visit ProvisionProton.com.

Esophageal Cancer Facts *

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 16,000 Americans are diagnosed with esophageal cancer each year. It affects men much more often than women. Middle-aged men who are overweight with a history of acid reflux (heartburn) seem to be at the highest risk. Because the disease often has no symptoms in the early stages, it is usually detected at a more advanced stage that is more challenging to treat.

The esophagus is a foot-long tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. Its lining has several layers. Esophageal cancer begins in the cells of the inside lining. It then grows into the channel of the esophagus and the esophageal wall.

A sphincter, a special muscle that relaxes to let food in or out, is on each end of the esophagus. The one at the top lets food or liquid into the esophagus. The one on the bottom lets food enter the stomach.

Acid Reflux Raises Risk

This sphincter also prevents stomach contents from refluxing (coming) back into the esophagus. If stomach juices with acid and bile come into the esophagus, it causes indigestion or heartburn. Reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are the medical names for heartburn.

If you have reflux for a long time, the cells at the end of the esophagus change to become more like the cells in the intestinal lining. This is called Barrett’s esophagus, and it is a pre-malignant condition. This means it can become esophageal cancer and needs to be watched closely.

Esophageal Cancer Types

The types of esophageal cancer are named after the cells where they begin.

Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of esophageal cancer in western societies, especially in white males. It starts in gland cells in the tissue, most often in the lower part of the esophagus near the stomach. The major risk factors include reflux and Barrett’s esophagus.

Squamous cell carcinoma or cancer, also called epidermoid carcinoma, begins in the tissue that lines the esophagus, particularly in the middle and upper parts. In the United States, this type of esophageal cancer is on the decline. Risk factors include smoking and drinking alcohol.

This is the most common type of esophageal cancer worldwide. In other countries, including Iran, northern China, India and southern Africa, this type of esophageal cancer is much more common than in the United States.

* (Esophageal Facts Source: mdanderson.org)

Provision First Proton Therapy Center Using New Product to Benefit Prostate Cancer Patients

By | News | No Comments

Knoxville, TN (April 7, 2015) — Provision Center for Proton Therapy is helping pioneer a new product that will help further protect prostate cancer patients from the effects of radiation therapy. Today, four patients were injected with SpaceOAR® hydrogel, the first product in the United States cleared just last week as a spacer to protect the rectum in men undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer. The SpaceOAR System is intended to temporarily position the anterior rectal wall away from the prostate during radiotherapy for prostate cancer, creating space to protect the rectum from radiation exposure. Provision is the first proton therapy center and the second radiation treatment center nationwide to adopt the product.

“We’re pleased to be the first proton therapy center to introduce this additional protection for our cancer patients,” said Marcio Fagundes M.D., radiation oncologist and medical director for Provision Center for Proton Therapy. “By its nature, proton therapy’s targeted radiation dosage protects surrounding tissues from damage. The SpaceOAR product provides us with even more ability to keep our patients comfortable and further prevent long-term side effects as a result of their treatment.”

Because of the close proximity of the prostate to the rectum, radiation therapy can cause damage, resulting in long-term side effects. The SpaceOAR system, developed by Augmenix, creates space to protect the rectum from radiotherapy. Placed through a small needle, the hydrogel is administered as a liquid, but quickly solidifies into a soft gel that expands the space between the prostate and rectum. The hydrogel spacer maintains this space until radiotherapy is complete. The spacer then liquefies and is absorbed and cleared from the body in the patient’s urine.

Gary Pitts, a retired urologist from Boone, NC, was one of the four patients to receive SpaceOAR hydrogel on Tuesday. He came to Provision after one of his patients was successfully treated for prostate cancer with proton therapy several years ago.

“Dr. Fagundes had mentioned the new SpaceOAR hydrogel to me, but we didn’t think it would be approved by the FDA in time,” Pitts said. “He immediately called when he found out it was cleared and I am thrilled to be the first proton therapy patient to receive the extra protection provided by the hydrogel.”

“For years, hydrogel products have been used safely to protect the most sensitive parts of the body as sealants and adhesion barriers, and now prostate cancer patients will also be able to benefit,” said John Pedersen, Augmenix chief executive officer. “FDA clearance of the SpaceOAR System represents a significant development in advancing the safety, precision and flexibility with which prostate cancer radiotherapy can be delivered.”

According to the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer is second only to skin cancer as the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men with an estimated 220,800 new cases and 27,540 deaths in the U.S. in 2015 alone. Worldwide, prostate cancer is expected to grow to 1.7 million new cases and 499,000 deaths by 2030.

FDA clearance was granted following completion of the SpaceOAR System prospective, multicenter, randomized clinical trial. SpaceOAR patients experienced a significant reduction in rectal radiation dose and severity of late rectal toxicity when compared to control patients who did not receive SpaceOAR hydrogel. The full pivotal clinical trial results have been submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and are expected to be published later this year.

About Augmenix, Inc.

Augmenix, Inc. is a privately held company based in Waltham, MA focused on the development and commercialization of radiation oncology products using its proprietary hydrogel technology. The company was founded by Incept LLC in 2008 and is funded by several leading venture capital groups.

About Provision Center for Proton Therapy

Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first cancer treatment center of its kind in Tennessee and only the second in the Southeastern United States. Open to all credentialed physicians and health systems in the region, the Provision Center for Proton Therapy has three treatment rooms and is able to treat up to 900 cancer patients annually. Treatments typically require daily 30-45 minute sessions for four to eight weeks. The next closest location offering proton therapy is more than 450 miles away. The center has brought to Knoxville and the world an advanced cancer treatment capability that presently is available in only a handful of cities. It is one of only 14 in the nation and 46 in the world.

Provision Healthcare and Tianjin Taishan Cancer Hospital Partner to Develop Proton Center in China

By | News | No Comments

Provision Healthcare and Tianjin Taishan Cancer Hospital Partner to Develop Proton Center in China

Knoxville, TN—Provision Healthcare has signed a joint agreement with the Tianjin Taishan Cancer Hospital (International Personalized Cancer Center, “IPCC”) in northern China to build the first and only proton therapy center in the free trade zone and develop a training facility for medical providers as part of the company’s global expansion strategy.

The $100 million (USD) center will be jointly owned and operated by Provision and Tianjin hospital and named the TAEA Sino-US Proton Treatment and Research Center. ProNova Solutions, Provision’s R&D and manufacturing business, will manufacture and outfit the center’s three treatment rooms with its SC360 proton treatment system. The project is scheduled for completion in early 2018.

Proton therapy uses a single beam of high-energy protons to precisely target a tumor with limited exposure to surrounding healthy tissues. Proton therapy is used to treat a variety of cancer types including prostate, breast, lung, head and neck, pediatric cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The venture will include a research capability for conducting clinical trials focused on further development of proton therapy in northern China. Additionally, the partners will develop and build a nearby training center to educate medical personnel as the use of proton therapy expands across the country.

“As the name indicates, Tianjin Taishan Hospital (IPCC) strives to provide personalized cancer treatment,” said Dr. Xishan Hao, president of the Chinese Anti-Cancer Association, honorary president of Tianjin Medical University and Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, director of the Tianjin Cancer Institute. “ProNova’s advanced technology will help Tianjin Taishan Hospital become the first provider for proton therapy in a free trade zone of China. The network of proton therapy centers that Provision have created will bring Taishan to the front row of global cancer research.”

“This partnership and investment with Tianjin Taishan Cancer Hospital in these projects is the next step in Provision’s strategy of making proton therapy available around the world,” said Terry Douglass, Chairman and CEO of Provision Healthcare. “Our goal is to make the proton center a “Center of Excellence” in the Asia-Pacific region. With our projects in the United States and Oxford in the United Kingdom, we’ve created a global strategic network that covers America, Europe and Asia.”

The proton center’s three treatment rooms will include two 360-degree rotation gantrys and one fixed beam system, and Provision will be responsible for operation and maintenance of the equipment. Provision will be involved in design and development of the project as well as management of patient services, replicating the “Culture of Care” model found at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA.

About Provision Healthcare
Provision Healthcare is a comprehensive healthcare group in the United States integrating clinical services, R&D, manufacturing, investment and a charitable foundation.  With an emphasis in cancer, Provision Healthcare is committed to providing cutting edge treatment, early detection and personalized care for cancer patients around the world.

About ProNova Solutions
As a division of Provision Healthcare, ProNova Solutions is committed to making proton therapy accessible to a greater number of patients and physicians worldwide. Founded by the leaders of CTI Molecular Imaging, ProNova’s team brought positron emission tomography (PET) technology out of the laboratory and made it a clinical reality for millions of cancer patients. Its SC360 system reduces cost of construction and maintenance, improves reliability and features additional systems functions including superconducting magnets for supplying and directing the beams of protons, cone-beam CT, PET scanning for precise location of the tumors and monitoring effectiveness of treatment, and pencil beam scanning for precise application of the proton radiation and quality control.

About Provision Center for Proton Therapy
Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first cancer treatment center of its kind in Tennessee and only the second in the Southeastern United States.  Open to all credentialed physicians and health systems in the region, the Provision Center for Proton Therapy has three treatment rooms and is able to treat up to 900 cancer patients annually.  Treatments typically require daily 30-45 minute sessions for four to eight weeks. The next closest location offering proton therapy is more than 450 miles away.  The center has brought to Knoxville and the world an advanced cancer treatment capability that presently is available in only a handful of cities. It is one of only 14 in the nation and 46 in the world.

About Tianjin Taishan Cancer Hospital
The Tianjin Taishan Cancer Hospital, located in the Tianjin Airport Economic Area
(“TAEA”), is the first personalized cancer medical center in China. Leveraging the free trade zone’s policy and advantages, the Hospital focuses on developing biological immune treatment, bone marrow transplant, functional surgery and precise and accurate radio therapy, characterized by precise and accurate comprehensive cancer treatment.