This is not the summer you had planned.
After months of saving and outlining a schedule that would allow everyone in your small family of four to travel overseas together, a report from the doctor brought everything to a screeching halt. Although you and your husband really wanted to continue your plan for a combination anniversary and graduation celebration to Santorini, Greece, when the doctor told you that the breast cancer care for your just received diagnosis required immediate attention you knew that you had to reevaluate. As much as you wanted to enjoy the 15 day vacation the week after your youngest daughter graduated from high school and a month after your oldest daughter graduated from college, you knew that you needed to look at the longer term goal.
Your mother had denied and avoided both the diagnosis and treatment that she received when she found out that she had breast cancer, and you have always wondered if her prognosis could have been better had she been more proactive. The fact that she died before your girls were ever born makes you want to at least try to follow the schedule for the breast cancer care that the team has advised.
The diagnosis of cancer is never good, and families often have many difficult decisions to make about the timing of treatments, about the options for breast cancer care, and about the future that you may have. Advanced cancer treatment options including some kinds of proton radiation therapy can provide patients with many years with their family, as well as a possible cure. Understanding all of these options, however, takes time, attention to details, and, obviously trust in their healthcare providers. Understanding the steps in, and the purpose of, proton therapy for breast cancer, for instance, is complicated. A team of caring and informed doctors and nurses, however, can be real resources for fielding questions and concerns.
Interrupting a long anticipated family vacation is a tough decision, but when it comes to following the advice you are given for breast cancer care, it was a necessary decision.
Non-Invasive Cancer Treatments Offer Options for Many Patients
Whether you are facing a diagnosis of breast cancer, prostrate cancer, or other equally devastating conditions, once the team starts to present the treatment options, everything can become a blur. The decision to follow the difficult treatments, however, is often the only choice that a patient has. Consider some of these statistics about the increasing number of proton treatment options that are available:
- Proton therapy is a type of radiation that stops at a very specific point in the targeted tissue; conventional radiation, on the other hand, continues beyond the tumor.
- In the case of breast cancer, typical proton therapy means that no radiation travels to the heart and an average of 50% less radiation travels to the lung when compared to conventional radiation.
- Proton therapy treatment sessions generally take 15 to 45 minutes; the actual time spent delivering the protons to the tumor, however, is generally only a minute or two.
- Researchers report that 99% of men treated with proton therapy with low-risk prostrate cancer have no signs of cancer recurrence after five years of follow-up.
- Researchers report that 94% of men treated with proton therapy with intermediate-risk prostrate cancer have no signs of cancer recurrence after five years of follow-up.
- Researchers report that 74% of men treated with proton therapy with high-risk to intermediate prostrate cancer have no signs of cancer recurrence after five years of follow-up.
- More than 30 particle therapy centers, with a total of about 80 treatment rooms, were under construction worldwide as of 2015.
- 94% of men report that they remain sexually active after proton therapy’s targeted treatment approach. Furthermore, these same reports indicate that patients treated with proton therapy have a significantly reduced risk of impotence.
- The U.S. will be home to almost 27 proton therapy centers by the end of 2017, according to the US Proton Therapy Outlook 2017 by RNCOS, almost double the current figure. The predicted revenue by that time is $1.17 billion.
- 67,000 people have received proton therapy in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. It was first used to treat patients in 1955 in a research setting, but initially proton therapy’s use was limited because imaging techniques could not accurately pinpoint tumors.