what to expect during proton therapy Archives - Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center

Provision Celebrates Another Milestone: Gantry Treatment Room Open

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The Creekside treatment room (pictured above) at Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first of two 360-degree gantry treatment rooms that can treat patients who have more complex cancers in a variety of disease sites. 

Provision Center for Proton Therapy celebrated yet another milestone this week – the opening of the first of two gantry treatment rooms.   The gantry rotates 360 degrees around the patient enabling us to treat a variety of more complex cancers such as brain, lung, breast, head and neck, esophageal, and pediatric cancers.

Pencil Beam Scanning

This room will also have a precise form of treatment: Pencil Beam Scanning (PBS). Pencil beam scanning uses a beam that is much smaller than those used in more common proton treatments and allows us to “paint” the tumor with protons. It can therefore be used to treat difficult tumors at higher doses and with fewer side effects to surrounding healthy tissue. There are currently less than 10 centers in the United States that have access to this incredible technology.

Third Treatment Room

Our third treatment room is scheduled to open in early fall. Once the third treatment room opens the Provision Center for Proton Therapy will have the ability to provide life-saving cancer treatment to as many as 90+ patients per day.

Grand Opening

The Provision team would like to invite all former, current, and future patients along with friends and family to the official Grand Opening of the Provision Center for Proton Therapy on Wednesday, April 30 at 3 p.m. We will have special guest speakers in celebration of the grand opening. Refreshments will be provided and the center will be open for tours. Please contact us at (865) 862-1600 to RSVP or for more information.

Provision Answers Common Questions About Proton Therapy Treatments

By | Clinical Care, Culture of Care, Patient Experience, Prostate Cancer, Proton Therapy, Technology, Uncategorized | No Comments

Most of us are overwhelmed and filled with fear when we hear the word “Cancer.”  Of course this is to be expected when we experience difficult periods in our lives. When we feel we have lost control of what we consider normal, we walk through many stages to arrive at a new normal.

As we begin the journey towards our “new normal,” there are usually tests, doctor’s appointments and treatments in our future. We look for areas of our lives that we can control throughout this process. And with that two of the most frequently asked questions at Provision Center for Proton Therapy are: “When will my treatments start?” and “How many treatments will I have?”

As part of Provision’s clinical care team, we take these questions seriously. We have made a commitment to our patients and to the community to offer the highest standards of cancer care. We want our patients to have the best treatment available for their diagnosis, and we want to help minimize the stress and anxiety involved in going to the doctor.

When will my treatments start?

There are many factors involved in planning for a proton therapy treatment.  When someone diagnosed with cancer calls our center, wondering if they may be a proton candidate, several things begin to happen. Either our care coordinators or one of our physicians will have a detailed conversation with the prospective patient or the referring physician. We will also request the individual’s medical records for our review.

When we receive medical records, our physicians will review and discuss them and decide if proton therapy is the best option for this individual. If the physicians agree the individual is candidate for proton therapy, our care coordinators will call the perspective patient to come in for a consultation and physical exam.  In addition, our financial team will begin speaking with their insurance company.

When a prospective patient comes in for a consultation, they may be at our facility for two to three hours. Though this seems like a long time, it is not actual ‘waiting’ time.  A nurse, doctor, clinical research nurse and a member of our financial team will speak with the individual if necessary.  We want to help our patients’ treatment to go smoothly, therefore, gathering information and educating the patient is very important.  At this point, our physicians will be ready to decide if proton therapy is the best treatment for this individual.

It is likely that most patients will need additional tests or scans before we begin their actual treatment planning. Our clinical staff will work closely with our patients to schedule tests at the most convenient times possible. Treatment planning can take a few days up to two weeks depending on the diagnosis and the complexity of the treatment plan.

It is very important that we communicate openly.  We want our patients to tell us what they are looking for in a timeline for treatment, and we will try to meet that expectation as closely as we can. At times we may have patients waiting to start their treatment at a later date, but we would never ask anyone to wait if it weren’t completely safe for them to do so.  This is definitely a subject that patients, physicians and the clinical team must work closely on together.

How many treatments will I have?

Just like the treatment start date, there are several factors that determine how many treatments a patient will receive. Every patient is a unique individual, and even with the same diagnosis, no patient is treated exactly the same. We must take into consideration: diagnosis, staging, size, peripheral tissue and organ structures and other medical conditions.

The physician will write a prescription for proton therapy, just like regular prescriptions that are used for receiving medication.  This prescription will state the physician’s desired dose for treatment, number of treatments, and the targeted area of treatment for their patient.

Our physicians, medical physicists and dosimetrists will work together on a treatment plan that is customized for each patient. Only the physicians will be able to inform our patients of exactly how many treatments they will need.

Every patient is different, so every treatment is different. Our physicians will take as much time as necessary to explain this to every patient and answer all of their questions during their visit at Provision Center for Proton Therapy.

Each and every patient is important to our team.  Our goal for our patients, while they are here, is not only to treat their body but their mind and soul as well. When their treatments are complete, we hope that they can begin their “new normal” with health and wellness.

For more information on whether proton therapy is right for you, please call (865) 862-1600.  Click here to subscribe to our “Proton Post” newsletter.


Susan Stinnett is the Director of Clinical Services for Provision Center for Proton Therapy and has been a radiation therapist for 17 years and a clinical leader for 5 years.

Provision & ProNova Join Other Proton Industry Leaders at 2014 Conference

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Proton therapy patient and prostate cancer survivor, Bill Barbour, was a guest speaker at the 2014 National Proton Conference in Washington, D.C.  Barbour is a proton therapy advocate that educates and shares his experience with others.  See his story in the video above.

The National Proton Conference in Washington, D.C., was a convergence of proton therapy community leaders, clinicians, advocates and vendors.  The NPC is the premier proton therapy event of the year where the best of the best in the proton community was on hand.  Highlights of the event included a presentation by Christopher Pericak of The Advisory Board Company about the state of the proton therapy marketplace in today’s health care reform climate.  Proton pioneer Dr. James Cox kicked off the conference with a keynote speech about “where we are headed.”  Dr. Elise Berliner, from the U.S. federal agency on health research and quality (AHRQ), along with Provision’s own Scott Warwick, addressed patient registries.   Joe Matteo educated to attendees about the advances of ProNova’s compact SC360 proton therapy system.  Provision Center for Proton Therapy’s medical director, Dr. Marcio Fagundes joined a panel of experts on treating breast cancer with proton therapy and Niek Schreuder, Provision chief medical physicist, spoke on the innovations in design, equipment and engineering.  Additionally, the economics of proton therapy, planning, developing and launching a proton center, plus treating breast, head and neck cancers, and much more was presented.

Another highlight was the announcement of the results of a 2014 NAPT/Dobson DaVanzo report on an in-depth “quality of life” survey of nearly 4,000 prostate patients treated with proton therapy at multiple centers across the U.S.  The conference was a huge success and an important collaboration of clinical and technological efforts in the proton industry.

Rex Ward Completes Proton Therapy Treatment

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When the Victory Bell rings at Provision Center for Proton Therapy, everyone knows it.  Three loud rings resonated through the lobby at Provision Center for Proton Therapy on Feb. 24. They kept sounding over the applause of the gathered staff and well-wishers, announcing the good news: Rex Ward has completed his treatment. He is one of the first patients to complete proton therapy at the new facility, completing four weeks of 20 treatments for prostate cancer.

Rex was in high spirits, shaking hands and cracking jokes, grinning from ear to ear, his wife, Deanna, by his side. Rex said upbeat music is always playing during treatments at Provision, but Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” was the soundtrack today.  “I do feel that way about these people,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of medical experiences, but I’ve never had one like this.”

When Rex was first diagnosed with prostate cancer, his urologist gave him a lot of options, but proton therapy wasn’t one of them. He knew about the treatment from family members who had gone through the program at Loma Linda, Calif., the first proton therapy treatment facility in the country. He had almost settled on another treatment path when he saw a television commercial featuring Provision’s Proton Guys, volunteers who have gone through proton therapy and now serve as ambassadors for the program.

“We went online, and within a day or two we had an appointment here,” said Deanna.

“It’s a providential thing that this center opened right when I needed it,” said Rex. “God does wonderful things. I am thankful that God gives people the science to be able to do things like this.”  Rex said the treatments have been painless, “like taking an X-ray.”  “I feel great! No side effects, no pain. It’s a real blessing,” he said.

Marcio Fagundes, M.D., board certified radiation oncologist and medical director of Provision Center for Proton Therapy, had two patients complete treatment Feb. 24, Rex and one other.  “Both feel wonderful,” he said. “It’s just a great accomplishment to provide the most advanced treatment available. It’s good to see the patients we’re seeing doing so well.”

Deanna said Dr. Fagundes has been a great support for her and Rex.  “There was no question too trivial, no time that we could not call,” she said.

According to Dr. Fagundes, next steps for Rex include a screening and exam three months from now, followed by screenings every six months for the first five years, and every year after that.

For Rex and Deanna, they plan to stay in touch with the team at Provision.  “The whole staff here is like family,” said Rex. “It’s an experience that I won’t forget.”

Five-Year Proton Therapy Study For Prostate Shows 99% Disease-Free Survival

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A recent study by the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology showed that proton therapy is the most effective treatment for prostate cancer.  This study reported very effective outcomes for low, intermediate and high risk patients with prostate cancer.  It also demonstrated minimal toxicity to the healthy tissues surrounding the prostate resulting in excellent patient-reported outcomes with limited side effects.  Five-year disease free survival rates were 99%, 99%, and 76% in low-, intermediate-, and high-risk patients, respectively.  This compares to rates of 97%, 85%, and 67% reported from a five-year study conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering using IMRT (Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy).

“The University of Florida study is based on physician-reported and patient-reported outcomes, and it adds convincingly to a large body of evidence regarding the efficacy and unique advantages of proton therapy for prostate cancer,” said Marcio Fagundes, M.D., a board-certified radiation oncologist and medical director of the Provision Center for Proton Therapy. “At the same time, this report debunks the one or two widely reported studies that used sub-standard procedures and surrogate data to draw flawed conclusions.”

Proton Therapy side effects were reported to be minimal.  Gastrointestinal and urologic side effects were 1% and 5.4% respectively.  An earlier study claimed that proton therapy may be more toxic than IMRT.  This study shows that claim to be false.

You can see the complete study at the following link: http://www.redjournal.org/article/S0360-3016(13)03310-5/abstract

A Proton Patient’s Valentine’s Day Gift to His Caregivers

By | Clinical Care, Culture of Care, East Tennessee, Patient Experience, Patient Hospitality, Patient Stories, Prostate Cancer, Proton Therapy, Uncategorized | No Comments

We check back in with prostate cancer patient Rex Ward and find out how his proton therapy treatments are going.  He gives us insight on how he’s feeling and lets us know what he plans to give the Provision Center for Proton Therapy staff for Valentine’s Day.

What Is the First Day of Proton Therapy Like?

By | Clinical Care, East Tennessee, Patient Experience, Patient Stories, Prostate Cancer, Proton Therapy, Technology, Uncategorized | No Comments

View the video below to follow patient Rex Ward’s first treatment experience at Provision Center for Proton Therapy:

What can you expect on your first day of proton therapy treatment?  This is a question many patients ask.  A diagnosis of cancer is scary and the first day of treatment is no exception.  Prostate cancer patient Rex Ward has generously agreed to share his thoughts and feelings about his proton therapy treatment journey.  No stranger to proton therapy – – many of his family members graduated from Loma Linda University, where the nation’s first proton therapy patients were treated in California – – Rex was thrilled to learn that proton therapy was available right here in Knoxville, Tennessee.  We will follow Rex, get his insights about proton therapy, and we may just recruit him as a Proton Guy.