There is one type for which proton therapy is, shall we say, a “no brainer.”
An estimated 23,800 adults and 4,830 children are diagnosed with cancerous tumors of the brain and spinal cord annually, with brain tumors making up the vast majority of that number.
Good lifestyle choices are always important. For those with a cancer diagnosis, they can be even more so.
It is critical to maintain the key activities that encourage good health throughout cancer treatment and after. Good habits such as physical activity and a healthy diet affect not only the outcome of treatment but the quality of life during and after treatment. Read More
On May 12, 2016, Provision Healthcare and Tianjin Taishan Cancer Hospital – International Personalized Cancer Center (IPCC) held the “Tianjin Free Trade Zone Sino-American Proton Therapy International Summit” in Tianjin*. During the summit, Provision and Tianjin IPCC entered into agreement to launch the first international Proton Therapy Clinical Research & Training Center in China. Read More
The spotlight recently shone on proton therapy by the International Journal of Radiation Oncology-Biology-Physics, known as the Red Journal, marks a milestone in its recognition as an established treatment for cancer.
It also holds good news for patients considering their treatment options. Read More
Vice President Joe Biden’s recent commitment to lead a “moonshot” toward a cancer cure promises to deal a blow to the disease that has become the leading killer in the United States.
The initiative, kicked off last week, commits to bringing together a combination of therapies with “innovations in data and technology” to create treatment options that are ready for prime time—with the goal of making “a decade worth of advances in five years.”
Here at Provision, we couldn’t agree more. It’s something we work toward every day.
We believe the solution to a cancer cure is a combination of early detection along with both currently available and up-and-coming therapies that have the power to transform cancer treatment as we know it.
Here’s our view of a cancer-free future.
Ninety percent of cancer is treatable when detected early. If those at risk for a variety of cancers—particularly the big three: prostate, breast and lung—were screened appropriately, many of the cancer deaths we now mourn could be prevented.
For those who test positive for cancer, the healthcare system needs to, through research as well as financial support via insurance coverage, move toward treatments that kill the cancer but spare the patient and sustain quality of life.
Today, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy in various measures and combinations are the typical recipe for cancer care. All three of these remedies carry their own risks, from that of infection and complications in surgery to the collateral damage of radiation to the harsh toll chemotherapy takes on the entire body. Truly, the cure can be worse than the disease.
Here’s our vision of the future:
First, conventional radiation and most surgery should be replaced by proton therapy. Proton therapy is a proven, FDA-approved treatment option for those diagnosed with localized cancer such as found in the prostate, breast or brain. This non-invasive treatment reduces the side effects caused by conventional radiation therapy and surgery. A growing number of proton therapy centers are making this world-class option available to patients across the globe. We support their research in developing the best treatment plans and clinically demonstrating proton therapy’s effectiveness.
Second, immunotherapy offers the promise of a future without chemotherapy. By using the body’s own disease-fighting system to eradicate cancer, it eliminates the toxic, debilitating side effects now experienced by chemo patients and better prevents spread of the disease. Research should be dedicated to bringing this unique treatment to everyday application for cancers that now require chemotherapy.
And serious, strategic investment should be made in cancer prevention by encouraging healthy lifestyle choice and reducing environmental risks.
As Biden has said, for too long research has been stuck in silos, focused on narrow investigative tracks and lacking a clear, comprehensive, thoughtful vision that could actually move the needle on cancer mortality. Treatment is too often dictated by the financial interest of the health care industry rather than public and personal health priorities. Patients are too often relegated into the role of bystanders rather than active participants in their care.
We rejoice in the government’s fresh approach to this growing crisis. We are encouraged by the vice president’s willingness to seek the best answers to a problem that has touched his life and ours. We believe the answer is within reach—and we want to be a part of the solution. As Provision’s own ice-skating, cancer-surviving spokesman Scott Hamilton so eloquently puts it: “We want to help turn cancer upside down!”
Whether a career change or cancer treatment, Bill Raffield is the kind of man who goes for what he wants.
He started out with a B.S. in physics and a career in the Air Force where he planned and evaluated instructional systems for the military’s intercontinental ballistic missiles program during the Vietnam War. He became a captain, serving as combat crew commander and wing instructor and discovered he enjoyed “arranging resources to accomplish the mission,” he says. “At the time, I didn’t know what that was called, but in business, that’s operations.”
After his military career ended, Raffield didn’t settle into the field he had chosen but embarked in a new direction, starting out as a territory sales manager for Michelin Tire and ending up management and operations for Truckstops of America and Universal Tire.
“I tended to say, ‘I’m going to do what fits me,” he says.
While in the military he had earned a master’s degree in public administration and later he received a doctorate in industrial management with an eye toward another goal: teaching.
Since 1991, he has been at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., where he has served as business professor, Director of the school’s Division of Business and Senior Associate Dean of the business college. Six years ago he chose to leave his administrative positions to return to teaching as an associate professor of operations and supply chain management.
“I tend to rebel at being painted into a corner,” Raffield says.
That mindset help Raffield look closely at all his options when diagnosed with prostate cancer after his PSA levels began an upward climb last year. His brother-in-law, who lives in Knoxville, had had proton therapy for prostate cancer three years prior, so Raffield knew something about the treatment. He also knew that with an active career and family life, including grandchildren who live nearby, he didn’t want to struggle with the side effects that came with other treatment options such as surgery and brachytherapy.
“My brother-in-law was amazed at how little impact there was in terms of side effects and everything else. Several friends elected to do brachytherapy and experienced significant side effects from the treatment. With surgery, a lifetime of incontinence and impotence was no deal,” he says. “But first and foremost was the cure rate for proton therapy—as good or better than anything else out there. Putting it all together, it was pretty clear proton was the way to go.”
Although Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., had recently opened, Raffield opted for Provision because it had been in business longer, because nearby family afforded a shorter daily commute (Rochester is a 100 mile trip from Raffield’s home in Forest Lake, Minn.) and because Provision offered a one-time hydrogel injection as an alternative to the balloon, which is inserted daily into the rectum of prostate patients prior to treatment for protection from radiation exposure.
“The hydrogel was icing on the cake,” he says.
And while the time away from his wife and grandchildren in Minnesota has been difficult, Raffield says he appreciates Provision’s support system of employees and the patients he met along the way.
“It’s a happy place,” he says. “I came down here two weeks after my diagnosis, and I was just blown away by the culture and atmosphere of Provision. That sealed the deal. I felt and continue to feel at home here.”
Raffield is one of several patients featured at ProtonStories.com.
There’s nothing like a cancer diagnosis to put a spotlight on personal health, and many people find themselves turning to supplements as a magic cure for their ills.
Be careful, says Provision Health and Performance Center nutritionist Casey Coffey, who has tangled with patients’ long lists of vitamins and natural remedies. One website offers a list of “20 herbs that can help fight cancer,” while a laundry list of vitamin and mineral supplements promise to deliver good health via capsule and pill.
Coffey’s list of truly beneficial supplements is pretty short. The most important thing is to start with a clean, healthy, nutritionally-complete diet plan, she says—then use supplementation sparingly. She spoke on the subject at a recent patient talk at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy.
“You can’t out-supplement a bad diet,” Coffey told attendees.
However, a few spices and supplements can truly make a difference in overall health. Coffey recommends the following:
• Garlic: A virtual storehouse of vitamins and minerals, garlic helps boost immunity, reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, aid brain function and help detoxify the body
• Ginger: Shown by research to aid in digestion, relieve nausea, reduce pain and inflammation, it also contains a laundry list of vitamins and minerals.
• Hot chili peppers: Can boost metabolism, particularly for those who aren’t accustomed to a spicy diet, alleviate pain and aid in dermatologic conditions. There is also some indication they may help prevent prostate cancer. Read More
Clinical Research is a key component of our mission here at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy and serves as an integral part of all major comprehensive cancer programs. Without clinical research, we would not have the vast majority of successful treatments available to cancer patients today.
Often there is confusion between the terms Clinical Research, Clinical Studies, and Clinical Trials. Clinical Research is a broad term that includes Pre-Clinical Research and Translational Research. Pre-Clinical Research most often consists of research initially performed in the laboratory that may include animal or human cell lines to test the effectiveness of new therapeutic agents, devices, or procedures. If this research demonstrates promise, then the research most often moves into the Translational Research phase where it is best determined how to “translate” the pre-clinical research into research in human subjects. This usually results in the development of Clinical Trials.
Clinical Studies involves research in human subjects to improve medical knowledge as defined by the National Institutes of Health. Clinical Studies can be divided into two distinct categories. Clinical Trials and Observational Studies. A Clinical Trial is developed to determine if new therapeutic agents (chemotherapy, monoclonal antibodies), devices (proton therapy, brachytherapy), or procedures (surgery) are effective or better in comparison to other current standard treatments in humans. Clinical Trials are often broken down into (4) four phases in order to answer different research questions as noted in the table below.*
Once a new agent, device, or procedure is deemed successful in Phase 3 trials it is then approved by the FDA for use in the general population.
Observational Studies or Registries are very basic clinical studies where data is collected from groups of participants according to a predefined research or protocol plan. This data is collected from treatments and follow-up visits in order to observe long-term effectiveness or side effects. This can often include quality-of-life surveys that are completed by the participants at different time intervals after their treatments are complete.
Offering the most advanced cancer treatments available is part of our mission here at Provision, and thus Clinical Research is an important aspect of the care we provide. We offer many innovative clinical and registry trials for our patients to participate in if desired. Performing this research allows us and our patients to work together to save more lives.
Scott Warwick is Vice President of Program Development & Strategic Initiatives
For more information on the Provision Center for Proton Therapy, visit the web site at www.provisionproton.com or call (865) 862-1600