Tennessee among states in cancer peril

Posted by on Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

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Tennessee has made its mark on the nation’s cancer map, and it’s not a pretty picture.

The state is among a handful (all in the South) that rank higher, or lower, than the rest of the country when it comes to leading risk factors for the disease, according to a recent report of the American Cancer Society (data illustrated by National Public Radio.) An estimated 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to ACS.

Tennessee leads the nation in rates of obesity and smoking, while trailing in measures that reduce the risk of cancer including exercise and eating healthy foods.

Here are how the statistics break down for the state:

• 24.3% are smokers

• 33.7% are obese

• 37.2% don’t exercise regularly

• 17.6% eat fruit twice daily

• 11.2% eat three vegetables daily

Compare this with Vermont, for example, in which 16.6 percent of the population smokes, 24.7 percent are obese, and just 20.5 percent don’t exercise or California where nearly one-quarter of the population eats the recommended services of vegetables and nearly 40 percent the recommended servings of fruit. (Truth is, there’s room for improvement across the country.)

In addition, many Americans fail to get recommended screenings for common cancer types. In Tennessee, just 56.5 percent of women over the age of 40 had a mammogram in the past year. And only 66.4 percent of both men and women had been tested for colorectal cancer. These screenings often result in early detection of cancer, which increases chances of survival.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to stay this way. Changing lifestyle habits such as adding daily exercise and smoking cessation increases your odds against cancer as well as other lifestyle-related diseases. Find out how to take first steps toward decreasing your cancer risk.

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Provision’s 400th patient not just a number

Posted by on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

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James Fulghum’s completion of prostate cancer treatment today was a celebration not only for him but for Provision Center for Proton Therapy as well—the graduation of its 400th patient.

A surprised grin crossed Fulghum’s face as he was presented him with a special certificate before he rang the graduation bell.

The event marks a “huge milestone” for Provision. The center opened last January and celebrated its 100th patient graduation just eight months ago. Since then, Provision Center for Proton Therapy has opened a third treatment room and seen its patient numbers increase significantly in 2015.

Fulghum, who came for treatment for aggressive prostate cancer from his home in Lebanon, Tenn., learned of proton therapy through his nephew. Founder and principal at civil engineering firm, Fulghum, MacIndoe & Associates, Billy Fulghum worked with Provision in its early days as the company made site design plans for the new treatment facility.

When his uncle was diagnosed with cancer, Billy Fulghum approached him about considering proton therapy as a treatment option.

“The first thing he said was, ‘I’m not going to the Bahamas to do some experimental thing,’” Billy Fulghum said.

But after perusing the Provision website and meeting with Dr. Marcio Fagundes and staff at Provision, James Fulghum was sold.

“(Dr. Fagundes has) been in this business for many years. He’s seen a lot of things,” Fulghum said. “He laid it out in simple terms that I could understand.”

At the end of eight weeks in Knoxville golfing, visiting the mountains, making friends with other patients—two of whom attended his graduation—and experiencing the hospitality and warmth of the Provision employees—from radiation therapists to hospitality coordinators to financial services manager Rhonda Turner—James Fulghum said he’s sad to go.

“I feel like when I walked through the front door this was heaven and these people were angels,” he said. “Even though I’m number 400, I’m not a number in this place.”

 

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Provision employee’s invention makes headlines, benefits patients

Posted by on Thursday, April 16th, 2015

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When radiaton therapist Zach Dutton got tired of cobbling together boxes and construction foam from Lowe’s to assist in making the cradle that holds patients immobile during their proton therapy treatments, he decided to solve the problem himself. With the help of his dad, Greg Dutton, he came up with the Z-box, an innovative frame that holds patients in place while their foam cradles are being poured and solidified around them.

The invention has garnered Dutton local headlines in the Knoxville News Sentinel and Loudon County News-Herald (the Duttons are from Lenoir City) as well as a byline in the Spring issue of the medical journal Radiation Therapist. First prototyping the box in plywood, the father-and-son team then crafted a plastic version of the Z-box that patients now regularly use.

The adjustable frame accommodates patients of varying flexibility—they must hold their arms above their heads during the process—and makes it possible for one technician to carry out the process. Prior to the Z-box, at least two people were needed to help hold the patient in place. As a result, what was once a one-and-a-half to two hour process in making the patient cradles, has been whittled down to 30-45 minutes.

While the device works well for proton therapy patients, it also could be used for conventional radiation therapy in cases where the patient needs to be kept still during treatment.

What motivated Dutton to take on the project? “I’ve always thought we could make things better,” he says.

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