Posts Tagged ‘proton therapy’

What Is Proton Therapy?

Proton therapy patient with nursesProton Therapy Arrives in Georgia

Winship Cancer Institute adds a powerful radiation therapy option to its broad array of cancer-fighting tools. Combining the latest advances in radiation technology, engineering, and medical physics, Winship physicians employ proton therapy to deliver a specialized treatment exactly where needed.

What Is Proton Therapy?

Proton therapy, also called proton beam therapy, is a type of radiation treatment that uses proton particles to destroy cancer cells. Unlike standard radiation therapy, which uses X-rays, a proton therapy beam can be calibrated to put the maximum radiation dose directly at the cancer with minimal radiation to healthy tissue. By reducing this radiation to normal tissues, proton therapy may also reduce side effects experienced during radiation treatment, and reduce risks of long-term side effects after treatment.

Because proton therapy can deliver a more targeted dose of radiation, physicians often use it to treat cancers in the brain, head and neck, lungs and abdomen, as well as for pediatric cancers. Depending on your diagnosis and treatment plan, your care team may decide to use proton therapy in addition to surgery, chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

How Does Proton Therapy Work?

Like other types of radiation treatment, proton therapy causes damage to the DNA of cancer cells, preventing them from growing and dividing, and eventually causing enough damage that these cells die. This is why it is important to have the ability to concentrate the radiation to the tumor or target for treatment and minimize or avoid radiation to normal tissues. In doing so, the DNA damage is limited to the cancer cells and avoids affecting normal healthy tissues.

Behind the scenes, the proton beam is generated in a cyclotron before traveling to the treatment room where the narrow stream of protons is steered by a magnet to “paint” the radiation to match the size, shape, and depth of the target.

Proton treatment sessions are typically daily, Monday through Friday. Treatment duration may vary according to your treatment site, but are typically 30 minutes each day. The total duration or number of treatments depends on your diagnosis and other factors, and can range from 3 to 8 weeks.

Emory Proton Therapy Center

The experienced physicians and specialists at Winship Cancer Institute and the Emory Proton Therapy Center will work closely with you to develop the most effective treatment plan with the fewest potential side effects. If you want to learn more about proton therapy and the Emory Proton Therapy Center, visit winshipcancer.emory.edu/proton.

What You Need to Know About Head and Neck Cancer

Head and Neck Cancer AwarenessApril is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know that head and neck cancers account for approximately 3 percent of cancers diagnosed every year in the United States and affect more than twice as many men as women?

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is responding to the increased need by opening a new and innovative head and neck cancer clinic at Emory University Hospital Midtown. The new space on the 10th floor includes 22 care rooms that allow multidisciplinary providers to come directly to the patient during a single appointment. Winship at Emory radiation oncology experts are also offering treatment for certain patients at the new Emory Proton Therapy Center, just two blocks from Emory University Hospital Midtown.

Here is more information about head and neck cancers that will help you to be aware of symptoms and potential risk factors.

What is Head and Neck Cancer?

Head and neck cancer includes any cancer of the skin and mucosal surfaces of the head and neck, such as:

  • Mouth (gums and tongue)
  • Nose and sinuses
  • Oropharynx (tonsils, back of tongue)
  • Salivary glands
  • Skin of the head and neck
  • Throat, larynx

You use these organs for important functions every day, including speech, swallowing, smell and taste.

Smoking and drinking alcohol put you at greater risk of developing head and neck cancer. In addition, head and neck cancer, especially of the oropharynx and base of the tongue, may be linked to HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), a virus passed commonly during sexual activity.

Common Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer symptoms vary depending on the exact location, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing and/or pain when swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Non-healing ulcers in the mouth
  • Pain in the head and neck that does not improve
  • Lump in the neck that does not resolve with antibiotics
  • Hoarseness or other chronic changes in voice
  • Unexplained loosening of the teeth

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about screening for head and neck cancer.

Advanced Treatment for Head and Neck Cancers

Winship’s multidisciplinary team of head and neck experts meets regularly to discuss the right treatment options for patients. Therapy may include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or different types of radiation therapy, including proton therapy.

At the Emory Proton Therapy Center, you can access the world’s most advanced radiation technologies and treatments for specific cancers, including head and neck cancers, as well as renowned specialists from Winship at Emory.

Proton therapy is a specialized form of external beam radiation, an important part of successful treatment for many forms of cancer. Specifically, for head and neck cancers, proton therapy delivers radiation with proton particles directly to the tumor, greatly reducing the amount of radiation to healthy, normal tissues. This may help prevent side effects from treatment, such as dryness of the mouth or long-term dental decay. Proton therapy may be integrated into your overall care plan, which may include surgery, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy. Your doctor may also suggest other radiation treatment options depending on your particular form of cancer. In some cases, proton therapy may be the only treatment required.

Winship medical oncologists continue to see improved survival and quality of life for head and neck cancer patients who are treated with immunotherapy. Within the last three years, two FDA-approved drugs falling under the category of immunotherapeutic agents were cleared for use for metastatic cancers. Continued research to develop these drugs means you may experience fewer side effects when compared to chemotherapy.

Winship Cancer Institute surgeons are also changing the way head and neck cancer patients are treated through a minimally invasive procedure called Transoral Robotic Surgery, or TORS. During a TORS procedure, surgical robot arms are inserted into the patient’s mouth and used to remove cancerous tumors in the tonsils or back of the tongue.

Looking to the Future with Clinical Trials

At Winship at Emory, clinical trials allow access to novel treatments that aren’t yet available through standard clinical practice, or that may not be available anywhere else. The Emory Proton Therapy Center will also offer clinical trials alongside Winship to provide patients with more options. There are currently more than a dozen clinical trials specifically focused on head and neck cancers with the use of immunotherapy. Trials are also focused on various forms of metastatic diseases. It’s another way we’re focused on improving care and standards.

Learn more about advanced treatments for head and neck cancers at the Emory Proton Therapy Center and Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

Winship Cancer Institute, Emory Break Ground on $200+ Million Emory Proton Therapy Center!

A new era in cancer treatment in Georgia recently began as Emory Healthcare and Winship Cancer Institute broke ground on the first facility in Georgia to offer the most advanced radiation therapy possible – proton beam therapy.

Proton therapy is the next generation of radiation oncology. It uses protons to precisely treat cancerous tumors and minimize radiation to the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. For certain cancers, and for pediatric cancer patients, it may provide more effective treatment with fewer side effects. This innovative therapy is offered at fewer than a dozen centers in the United States but is available in other countries and more than 110,000 people worldwide have received this FDA-approved therapy.  The Emory facility is being built in partnership with Advanced Particle Therapy, LLC of San Diego, CA.

Proton therapy may be most beneficial for patients with cancerous our benign tumors in certain anatomic areas, including  the brain, prostate, liver, esophagus, head and neck and the base-of-skull.  It’s also  beneficial for treating children because of the risk to growth and developmental from conventional radiation.  Studies in children have shown that proton therapy minimizes damage to healthy tissues and produces fewer side effects.

The Emory Proton Therapy Center will enable Winship researchers  to continue studying the benefits of proton therapy, with the goal of producing better outcomes for our patients.  At Winship we constantly seek out the most effective treatment available, and for many of our patients, proton therapy is that treatment.

As Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute designated cancer center, Winship is committed to cancer research projects which improve our patients’ lives.

About Dr. Curran

Walter J. Curran, Jr. was appointed Executive Director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in September 2009. He joined Emory in January 2008, as the Lawrence W. Davis Professor and Chair of Radiation Oncology and Chief Medical Officer of the Winship Cancer Institute.

Dr. Curran, who is a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar, has been a principal investigator on several National Cancer Institute (NCI) grants and is considered an international expert in the management of patients with locally advanced lung cancer and malignant brain tumors. He has led several landmark clinical and translational trials in both areas and is responsible for defining a universally adopted staging system for patients with malignant glioma. He serves as the Founding Secretary/Treasurer of the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups and a Board Member of the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Ga CORE). Dr. Curran is the only individual currently serving as director of an NCI-designated cancer center and as group chairman of an NCI-supported cancer cooperative group, the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group.

Dr. Curran is a Fellow in the American College of Radiology and has been awarded honorary memberships in the European Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology and the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology. In 2006, he was named the leading radiation oncologist/cancer researcher in a peer survey by the journal Medical Imaging. Under Dr. Curran’s leadership Emory’s Radiation Oncology Department has been recently selected as a “Top Five Radiation Therapy Centers to Watch in 2009” by Imaging Technology News. Dr. Curran ranked among the top 10 principal investigators in terms of overall NCI funding in 2010 and among the top 20 principal investigators in overall NIH funding in 2010.

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