Proton beam therapy helps patients battle cancer

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Emma-Jane Hinton’s upbeat nature made her a natural for cheerleading, but she was finding it hard to feel enthusiastic last year when she started experiencing pain.

”At first I was having pain right here and it would go down my shoulders and down my arms,” the 13-year old said.

Doctors first thought it was a pinched nerve but an eventual MRI revealed a tumor in her brain.

”I just remember saying ‘I’m not going to die right?’ That’s literally all I said,” she added.

Hinton’s treatment included surgery to remove the tumor, followed by chemotherapy and then targeted proton beam radiation therapy at Baptist Health’s Miami Cancer Institute.

”There are certain very unique things about proton therapy and perhaps the most interesting thing is that it delivers radiation dose to a precise depth and thereafter there is essentially no further radiation dose,” said Dr. Minesh Mehta, Chief of Radiation Oncology.

Pinpointed radiation, like proton therapy, can reduce the risk of damaging surrounding tissues.”

In her case it was a portion of the brain that needed to be radiated and it was crucial that we spare the rest of the brain from unnecessary radiation so that would make her cognition, her ability to think, her hearing retain her memory and those are the goals of proton therapy and fortunately she did exceptionally well,” he said.

Hinton looks at the entire experience pretty simply: she called  it a phase in her life that she got through.

”I mean like it wasn’t a great phase or anything like that but it was just a phase,” she said.

The use of proton therapy has expanded to include not only brain tumors but head and neck cancers, esophageal cancer, breast cancer, men with advanced prostate cancer and potentially deadly sarcomas.

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