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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Proton therapy showcased on Ellen

Posted by on Friday, April 10th, 2015

Julie Kramer, famous for her appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last year after being diagnosed with stage 4 synovial sarcoma, returned to the show this week. There she announced she was cancer free following proton therapy treatment. Proton therapy is an ideal treatment option for sarcoma because, when using traditional radiation, the location of these cancers often results in undesirable side effects to important organs such as brain, heart and lungs. Provision Center for Proton Therapy offers proton therapy treatments for both adults and children.

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Provision first to adopt hydrogel for prostate patients

Posted by on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

 

Four patients yesterday received an injection that provides the latest in protection from radiation damage during treatment for prostate cancer.

It’s a hydrogel called SpaceOAR, which when injected inside the body protects vulnerable, healthy tissue in the rectum, which sits adjacent to the prostate, from unwanted doses of radiation. Proton therapy already provides superior outcomes, with notably fewer side effects, to more traditional treatments of surgery or other forms of radiation. The Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first proton therapy center to offer the product.

“The SpaceOAR product provides us with even more ability to keep our patients comfortable and further prevent long-term side effects as a result of their treatment,” said Marcio Fagundes, M.D.

For more information on proton therapy for prostate cancer, call 1-855-566-1600 to speak to one of our Care Coordinators.

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Proton Therapy Extremely Effective for Esophageal Cancer

Posted by on Monday, April 6th, 2015

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When Bill Garland learned of his esophageal cancer, he knew nothing about proton therapy except that his doctors highly recommended the treatment. And he fully expected to suffer the same kind of side effects as traditional radiation—fatigue, site burns, loss of appetite. But Garland says he felt good most of the five weeks he underwent proton therapy, even though he was taking chemotherapy at the same time.

“I got the biggest surprise of my life—it didn’t bother me at all,” Garland, 80, says. “At church, there’s five men who’ve got cancer of different kinds. I was almost hesitant to tell them how I really felt, because they felt so bad.”

Garland discovered his cancer after being admitted to the hospital for internal bleeding. A tumor at the base of his esophagus turned out to be the culprit, and Knoxville medical oncologist, Tracy Dobbs, MD, recommended Provision Center for Proton Therapy, where he was treated with protons by Allen Meek, MD, board-certified radiation oncologist. “The esophagus is a difficult organ to treat with radiation therapy since it is so close to the heart, lungs, and spine,” said Dr. Meek. “Proton therapy allows us to only target the cancer cells, sparing surrounding tissues.”

“Because of (other) health issues, he was not going to be a candidate for surgery,” says Inez Garland, Bill Garland’s daughter-in-law, who accompanied him to doctors appointments as well as some of his treatments. “He did exceptionally great with everything,” she says. “He didn’t get nauseated, didn’t have any burns. He never had to get on liquids or anything. The people were so nice, everybody made us feel comfortable,” Inez Garland says.

The treatments ended in October, and Bill Garland is free again to enjoy his life and family of four children, 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“It really worked for me,” he says. “I tell everybody about proton.”

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, Provision is here to help. Please call 1-855-566-1600 to speak with one of our Care Coordinators or visit ProvisionProton.com.

Esophageal Cancer Facts *

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 16,000 Americans are diagnosed with esophageal cancer each year. It affects men much more often than women. Middle-aged men who are overweight with a history of acid reflux (heartburn) seem to be at the highest risk. Because the disease often has no symptoms in the early stages, it is usually detected at a more advanced stage that is more challenging to treat.

The esophagus is a foot-long tube that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. Its lining has several layers. Esophageal cancer begins in the cells of the inside lining. It then grows into the channel of the esophagus and the esophageal wall.

A sphincter, a special muscle that relaxes to let food in or out, is on each end of the esophagus. The one at the top lets food or liquid into the esophagus. The one on the bottom lets food enter the stomach.

Acid Reflux Raises Risk

This sphincter also prevents stomach contents from refluxing (coming) back into the esophagus. If stomach juices with acid and bile come into the esophagus, it causes indigestion or heartburn. Reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are the medical names for heartburn.

If you have reflux for a long time, the cells at the end of the esophagus change to become more like the cells in the intestinal lining. This is called Barrett’s esophagus, and it is a pre-malignant condition. This means it can become esophageal cancer and needs to be watched closely.

Esophageal Cancer Types

The types of esophageal cancer are named after the cells where they begin.

Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of esophageal cancer in western societies, especially in white males. It starts in gland cells in the tissue, most often in the lower part of the esophagus near the stomach. The major risk factors include reflux and Barrett’s esophagus.

Squamous cell carcinoma or cancer, also called epidermoid carcinoma, begins in the tissue that lines the esophagus, particularly in the middle and upper parts. In the United States, this type of esophageal cancer is on the decline. Risk factors include smoking and drinking alcohol.

This is the most common type of esophageal cancer worldwide. In other countries, including Iran, northern China, India and southern Africa, this type of esophageal cancer is much more common than in the United States.

* (Esophageal Facts Source: mdanderson.org)

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