Provision featured in new destination guide

Posted by on Thursday, September 24th, 2015

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Creating the best patient experience has always been a Provision priority, and now there’s a brand new resource that helps do just that.

Introducing the Provision Healthcare Health & Wellness Destination Guide, an information directory for patients and prospective patients who want to learn more about Provision, proton therapy and available activities and amenities in Knoxville and the surrounding region.

“The Destination Guide offers a glimpse of what is available at Provision in the way of treatment and care and also what to do during non-clinical time,” says Nancy Howard, Provision vice president of global medical tourism. “This area is rich in natural and cultural resources, making a patient’s treatment stay a very peaceful and healing retreat.”

The guide comes out of Provision’s growing focus on medical tourism, as the company takes proton therapy across the country and around the world. Produced in partnership with the Medical Tourism Association, the guide will be officially debuted this weekend at the World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress in Orlando.

Nearly 30 percent of Provision’s patients live 90 miles or more away from the center, which for most means finding accommodations during their four-to-eight-week stay for proton therapy treatment. And, 21 months into its operation, the Provision Center for Proton Therapy has treated seven international patients.

Those numbers are set to grow as Provision works with medical tourism facilitators around the world to educate doctors about the promise of proton therapy and offer services to those who don’t have local access.

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Disparity exists in diagnosis, death rates from common cancers

Posted by on Friday, September 18th, 2015

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Cancer doesn’t play fair to begin with, and if you’re African American the risk of getting and/or dying from the disease is even greater.

While overall risk of both developing and dying from all types of cancer is the same for African Americans as white Americans, the most common types are particularly bad actors for black patients.

For example, prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men, but one in five African Americans are diagnosed with it, compared to one in six white men, and one in 22 blacks will die compared to one in 39 whites. This makes African American men the most likely group in the world to die from this very curable type of cancer.

For women, African Americans are both more likely to be diagnosed with and die from breast cancer then whites, with particularly stark difference in Tennessee. Here, 33 black women per 100,000 die from breast cancer compared to just shy of 22 per 100,000 for white women, making its death rate one of the highest in the country.

The differences were once much greater, and the five-year survival rate from cancer for African Americans has gone up from 27 percent in 1960-1963 to 60 percent in 2002-2008. However, that lags overall survival rates, with 69 percent of whites living five years or more beyond a cancer diagnosis.

The reasons why aren’t completely clear. Lack of adequate screening may be a problem. For instance, although approximately the same percentage of black and white women get mammograms, more African Americans are diagnosed with later stage cancer—indicating perhaps too long a lag time between tests or improper follow-up of suspicious results.

But biological differences could also account for higher mortality rates among blacks.

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Get Checked! Free PSA Tests Offered at Eddie Check

Posted by on Friday, September 11th, 2015

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When Eddie Kirkland found out he had prostate cancer, it was too late to do anything about it. He died four years later.

That was 1976, and little was known about the risks of prostate cancer—the leading type of cancer in men. But that’s changed, locally thanks in part to an event called Eddie Check, which Kirkland’s son Kevin founded more than 30 years later in his honor.

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Eddie Kirkland, Staff Sergeant, Marines

“Back in 1972, you didn’t hear people talk about prostate health, you didn’t hear people talk about PSA tests because there were no PSA tests at that time,” he says. “I always said one day I wanted to do something that impacted men’s health like breast cancer awareness has impacted women’s health.”

Eddie Check pairs free PSA tests for men with a Medic blood drive and will be held Sept. 17 & 18 in locations throughout Knox, Anderson, Scott, Hamblen, Cocke, Blount, Roane and McMinn counties. Last year, the program collected more 1,200 units of blood and conducted more than 1,000 PSA tests. Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the primary medical sponsor for the event, and the Provision CARES Foundation pays for the PSA tests.

For Kevin Wathen of Maryville, getting a PSA test through EddieCheck revealed what a recent trip to his doctor had not: an elevated PSA level. A follow-up biopsy with a urologist in which nine of the 12 samples tested positive for cancer.

“There were no symptoms to tell me there was a problem,” Wathen says. “If I hadn’t had the test done I wouldn’t have given it any thought.”

As a result of EddieCheck, Wathen learned of his diagnosis and became an early patient at Provision Center for Proton Therapy. There, his prostate cancer was treated with protons, a type of radiation that pinpoints a tumor and spares much of the healthy tissue around it. This reduces side effects such as incontinence and impotency as well as discomfort during the time of treatment.

“It still doesn’t feel like I ever had cancer,” Wathen says.

As EddieCheck has grown and expanded, Kirkland says more men locally are becoming familiar with the risk of prostate cancer and how to keep tabs on their health.

“I think the education and the promotion we put out for prostate health have really resonated,” he says, adding that other programs coordinated by local hospitals and advocacy organizations have provided a boost to the most common of men’s cancers. “I think all of that has really improved education on prostate health. It has made us proud to be a small part of that.”

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ProtonStories: Earl Malpass

Posted by on Friday, September 4th, 2015

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For Earl Malpass, cancer treatment at Provision Center for Proton Therapy was something of a vacation

The pastor and mission pilot has lived in Alaska for 15 years, the past three of which he has spent in Manley Hot Springs where he and his wife, Lynn, live without running water through the long arctic winters.

“We go through 11-15 cords of wood in the winter,” Malpass says. “We just got electricity, and life has gotten a little easier.”

The communities he serves as pilot and director of Mission Air Care, a ministry of Baptist Missions to Forgotten Peoples based out of Jacksonville, Fla., are even more remote. The purpose of the ministry is to fly mission supplies to village outposts unreachable by roads.

Initially, the Malpasses lived in Fairbanks but relocated to Manley Hot Springs, selling their house and buying a partially-built cabin, to support the start of a new church there.

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Earl Malpass

Malpass discovered he had prostate cancer when his PSA rose sharply, and he traveled to the lower 48 to seek medical care. He consulted a couple of cancer treatment centers, including one with proton therapy capabilities—but poor customer service, he says— before discovering Provision.

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