Celebrating the Power of Protons During National Cancer Prevention Month

Cancer Survivors Stories are Incredible Reminder of Proton Therapy's Ability to Minimize Risk of Second Cancer

By proton-admin | February 21, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — To commemorate National Cancer Prevention Month, the Alliance for Proton Therapy Access recognizes the cancer patients and survivors who have become advocates for greater access to proton therapy. These survivors have experienced the benefits of proton radiation first-hand and now share their stories to educate others about the power of protons.

Proton therapy is widely recognized by the medical community for its ability to precisely target a patient’s cancer while sparing nearby healthy tissue and other critical structures from extraneous radiation. Data shows that cancer patients who have received proton therapy not only experience limited negative side effects during treatment but also are at a lower risk of developing secondary cancers later in life than those treated with traditional radiation.

Child and young adult cancer survivors look forward to a long life but are at the highest risk of developing secondary cancer as a result of radiation treatment. Reducing the risk of a second cancer 25 or 30 years after an initial diagnosis is critical and has profound impacts on a patient’s quality of life.

“This month the Alliance acknowledges the contribution of all those who have shared their stories and are advocating for greater access to proton therapy,” said Daniel E. Smith, executive director of the Alliance for Proton Therapy Access. “During National Cancer Prevention Month, we are proud to highlight the stories of three young adult patients who credit proton therapy’s ability to reduce their risk of secondary cancer as one reason they were grateful to receive this treatment.”

Testimonials from the Alliance for Proton Therapy Access website:

Kim Jones Penepacker was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 25. This aspiring lawyer knew proton therapy was right for her upon learning about its benefits from her physicians. 

“After discovering there was a type of radiation that could minimize the risk for recurrence and second cancers while also avoiding damage to healthy surrounding tissue, I knew proton therapy would be the best option for my long-term physical and mental health.”

Mariam Tariq was diagnosed with aggressive Large B Cell Lymphoma at age 21. Due to a genetic condition that rendered her highly predisposed to secondary cancers, proton therapy was her only treatment option.

 “My doctors told me that proton therapy was considered the best option because it would significantly reduce the risk of a secondary cancer. While I was a little unsure about receiving radiation initially, I decided to pursue it after learning how proton therapy would be beneficial in preventing a recurrence.” 

Paul Panke was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at age 34. For him, proton therapy meant a better quality of life.

 “My doctors recommended that I receive proton beam radiation therapy because it would target the bad tumor cells and decrease the amount of excess radiation affecting the rest of my good brain cells – reducing my risks of developing future complications and ensuring a higher quality of life. It would also significantly decrease the chances of my cancer recurring.”

The Alliance for Proton Therapy Access believes that patients whose physicians recommend proton therapy should have access to the treatment. The Alliance works with cancer patients, survivors, loved ones, and caregivers to advocate for an insurance review and appeal process that ensures every individual has fair, timely, and transparent access to the care they need. An Alliance report, Cancer Care Denied, describes insurance barriers that improperly delay and deny cancer care.

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About the Alliance for Proton Therapy Access

The Alliance for Proton Therapy Access is an advocacy organization comprised of a growing community of patients, families, caregivers, physicians, and industry partners working together to make sure all cancer patients seeking proton therapy receive fair and timely payment decisions from their health insurers. The Alliance is governed by a Board of Directors made up of patients, physicians and industry partners. Sign up to be an advocate and learn more about the Alliance at allianceforprotontherapy.org. Follow the Alliance on Facebook and Twitter.