Proton Therapy Makes Way to Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Cancer patients in Oklahoma now have an opportunity to receive a more advanced form of radiation treatment. It's called proton therapy. And the new proton treatment center in Oklahoma City is only the sixth in the nation.
It's an exclusive treatment that was only available on either end of the country. But now, Oklahomans and people from neighboring states will benefit from another weapon in the fight against cancer.
Since his diagnosis of cancer last year, Steve White has been in and out of exam rooms.
"My family doctor sent me to an urologist and he did a biopsy and determined that I had prostate cancer," White said. "So, then the question becomes, ‘What do you do about it?'"
Initially, White opted for surgery. But then the Oklahoman settled on treatment at Pro-Cure in Florida, where he underwent proton therapy. As it turns out, the usually tough side effects that come along with traditional radiation didn't affect White.
"I felt great," White said. "We were playing gold, going fishing, going to the beach and just, you know, had a vacation for a couple months.
To administer proton therapy, a series of magnets sit inside the "cyclotron." When fired up, protons are generated, ejected from the machine, and travel to the body. Inside the body -- the protons only attack the tumor. Chances of damaging the surrounding tissues, like in traditional radiation treatments, are dramatically decreased.
"With protons, doesn't mean side affects there, but have a much better chance of avoiding them," Radiation Oncologist Dr. Sameer Keole said. "For instance, for a pediatric child, we can decrease the dose to the normal brain by anywhere from 70 to 80 percent."
Doctors estimate that 3,500 Oklahomans would benefit from proton therapy this year.
Steve White went through two months of the treatment. Now it's one year later, and he's living cancer free.
"You know, I'm convinced it's gone and I'm cured," White said.
Doctors at Pro-Cure plan to treat patients with brain tumors, head and neck tumors, prostate cancer as well as patients with pediatric cancers at the Oklahoma City center. There are plans to move into breast and lung cancer treatments, among other illnesses, in the future.