More than 30 people from the Bluegrass State have completed treatment since the Provision Center for Proton Therapy opened last year, and Kentucky is the second largest source of patients next to Provision’s home state of Tennessee. These patients have come to receive treatment for prostate, breast and lung cancer and lymphoma and have included two pediatric patients suffering from brain tumors.
Unlike conventional radiation therapy, which uses x-rays, protons deposit their energy in a specified location, reducing the injury to healthy tissues and organs around a tumor site. Provision Center for Proton Therapy offers treatment to patients suffering from a variety of cancers including head and neck, lung, esophageal, prostate, brain, breast, bladder, sarcoma, tongue, lymph and colon as well as pediatric cancers. The center, which has three treatment rooms, currently serves about 80 patients per month.
“Provision Healthcare provides the best in cancer treatment care and is the only center in the region to offer proton therapy to cancer patients,” said Dr. Marcio Fagundes, medical director for the Provision Center for Proton Therapy. “Proton therapy is superior to conventional radiation therapy for most cancers, because it spares healthy tissue and significantly reduces side effects, both during and following treatment.”
Patients travel to Provision from across the country and around the world, including England, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Mexico, Brazil and China. Provision Center for Proton Therapy is one of only 17 proton therapy centers in the nation and 50 in the world. The FDA approved proton therapy as a treatment modality in 1988.
“Proton therapy, for me, was a wonderful discovery,” said Glenn Ross, owner of Investment His Way in Elizabethtown, Ky. “I would absolutely recommend proton therapy to anyone diagnosed with cancer.”
He was joined by Richard Sutherland, principal of Frankfurt-based Stantec Consulting and a fellow prostate cancer sufferer with whom Ross played golf—six rounds in seven days—and marveled at the minimal side effects they suffered while in proton therapy.
“I’ve got 15 or more friends who have had surgery or conventional radiation for prostate cancer, and I was aware of all the side effects they experienced,” Sutherland said. “Then I started reading about proton therapy. I contacted about 25 patients who had the treatment, and every one of them had the conviction that they did the right thing. During my treatment I played a lot of golf. I ate a lot of good food. And I had very few side effects.”
Both have become Proton Ambassadors, committed to sharing the benefits of the treatment with prospective patients and their local communities.
“I’d shout about proton therapy from the mountain tops if I could,” Sutherland said. “Proton therapy is just little known among the population.”
Eleven-year-old Emma Ferrell of Winchester, Ky., found proton therapy to be a relief after enduring both regular and high dose rounds of chemotherapy for a brain tumor. Radiation oncologists at Provision work closely with other specialists and patients’ personal physicians to craft a specialized treatment plan that incorporates other therapies as needed.
“It was pretty wonderful,” says Linda Ferrell, Emma’s mother. “Emma’s been through quite a bit over the last year. With the treatment at Provision, it was pretty easy. I’m a huge advocate for proton therapy.”
Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first cancer treatment center of its kind in Tennessee and only the third in the Southeastern United States. Open to all credentialed physicians and health systems in the region, the Provision Center for Proton Therapy has three treatment rooms and is able to treat up to 900 cancer patients annually.