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proton therapy for breast cancer Archives - Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center

Proton Therapy For Left-Sided Breast Cancer: Why Choose This Treatment?

By | Breast Cancer, Proton Therapy, side effects | No Comments

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for females, with one in eight being diagnosed in her lifetime. The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. predicts that over 246,660 females and 2,600 men will be diagnosed with the disease this year. As the second leading cause of death for women, breast cancer will take the lives of 40,000 females and 440 males each year on average.

Treatments for breast cancer include chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy, surgery, and radiation. As there is not one perfect formula to eliminate the disease, many patients will need to undergo a combination of these treatment methods.

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Dr. Meek Discusses Radiation Options for Breast Cancer

By | Breast Cancer, Clinical Care, Dr. Allen Meek, Uncategorized | No Comments

Radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy are the mainline treatments for patients with breast cancer. As a treatment modality, radiotherapy has many roles to offer these patients.  These include treatment of the breast after a partial mastectomy in order to conserve the breast and treatment of the chest area after a total mastectomy in order to decrease the chance of the cancer recurring in that area.  In both these situations radiation may also be given to the lymph node regions around the breast in order to prevent a relapse in these sites.  Many studies have demonstrated that radiotherapy given in these settings decreases the chance of the cancer recurring and increases the probability of cure for the patient. Another role for radiotherapy is in treating recurrences of breast cancer, either in the chest area or elsewhere in the body known as metastasis.  Radiotherapy is very effective at remitting these secondary lesions and relieving associated symptoms leading to an improved quality of life.

Along with surgery and chemotherapy, radiotherapy is becoming more targeted, providing more punch to the cancer cells and less to the normal cells.  This is partly due to improved diagnostic imaging which provides us better localization of targets for the radiotherapy and partly due to improved technology in radiotherapy which allows us to conform the dose of radiation to these targets more precisely.  The goal in developing a plan of radiotherapy for a patient is to develop the plan with the maximum therapeutic ratio, namely the ratio of the dose to the cancer target to the dose delivered to normal tissues.

Compared to conventional x-ray therapy, proton beam radiotherapy generally provides a greater therapeutic ratio.  This is due to the fact that whereas x-rays will travel the entire thickness of the part of the body they are aimed at, protons will only travel a limited distance in the body depending on their energy.  The energy imparted to a proton and its direction of travel can be very precisely set and thus the range of the proton beam in the body can be carefully limited.  In breast cancer this allows us to thoroughly treat the breast or chest area and the lymph nodes while substantially limiting the dose of radiation to the heart and lung compared to x-ray therapy.  This will lead to decreased heart and lung disease later in the patient’s life.  With more and more patients being cured of their breast cancer, reducing these preventable medical conditions becomes even more important.  As proton beam radiotherapy becomes more generally available, more and more patients will be able to take advantage of this safer treatment option. Proton beam has a more limited role in treating patients with metastatic breast cancer, though frequently is considered when a patient needs retreatment of a previously radiated area.  Because the volume of tissue receiving this second course of radiotherapy can be better limited with proton beam, it can be the less risky treatment option for these patients.

To find out if proton therapy is right for you, contact Provision Center for Proton Therapy at (865) 862-1600 or visit www.ProvisionProton.com

 

Dr. Allen Meek is Medical Director of Provision Medical Group and a board-certified radiation oncologist practicing at Provision Radiation Thearpy and Provision Center for Proton Therapy.  Dr. Meek was recognized as a 2012 U.S. News and World Report “Top Doctor” and one of the Best Doctors in America® for 2014.

Patient Story: Kimberly Krause

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

Kimberly Krause is the first breast cancer patient to complete treatment at Provision Center for Proton Therapy.  She shared her proton therapy journey with the Shopper News.

Kimberly Krause is an energetic woman with a fast-paced job managing a restaurant. But, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, the Provision Center for Proton Therapy helped keep her on her feet through treatment.

With a grandmother and two aunts diagnosed with breast cancer, Krause started yearly mammograms early. At age 39, her mammogram showed a possibility of breast cancer, and she went in for a biopsy Dec. 18. She was out of town on Dec. 20, when her doctor called with the news. She had breast cancer in the early stages, and six weeks of radiation, plus a lumpectomy or mastectomy was recommended.

Krause is a patient at Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center, on the same campus as the Provision Center for Proton Therapy at Dowell Springs. Her surgeon for the lumpectomy was Dr. George Webber. Each morning, a multi-disciplinary task force, including pathologists, oncologists, surgeons, radiation therapists and more, meet to review patients and recommend the best course of action for each patient.

“We all meet in order to provide input into a patient’s case so they can get the best possible recommendations,” said Webber.

Included on that task force is Dr. Allen Meek, board-certified radiation oncologist and Medical Director of Provision Medical Group. Because of the placement of Krause’s tumor, traditional radiation could have affected her lungs, giving her a higher chance of developing lung cancer later in life.

“This is not an immediate effect,” said Meek. “What can happen is potential long-term radiation damage to the left side of the chest. This includes a higher incidence of heart disease and a higher incidence of lung cancer. Proton therapy is certainly advantageous for younger women. Many chemotherapy drugs can potentially affect the heart, also.”

The proton beam can be controlled to send as little radiation as possible to nearby organs. Meek said another concern with traditional therapies is the chance of radiation scattering to the opposite breast.

“The benefit in my view is that we get the same benefit for the breast, and we reduce by a considerable margin the damage to the heart and lung,” said Webber. “The less we irradiate the internal organs, the better it is for the patient, period.”

“People need to know that side effects from protons are similar to traditional radiation: sunburn-like irritation at the site, fatigue, sore throat,” said Meek. “But most of our patients can keep working right through that. They have noticed some fatigue but bounce back quicker.”

Krause started treatment at Provision in early 2014, soon after the center opened.

“It was amazing. I had minimal side effects and was able to keep the same work schedule,” she said.

Krause is the first breast cancer patient to complete treatment at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy. She has been cleared and has a follow-up appointment scheduled for December.

“Everybody here was so nice,” she said. “They are very caring and wonderful people. I would suggest this 1,000 times over traditional radiation. “I got very lucky. It could have been way worse.”