Your First Call
Once you discovery that Proton Therapy exists your first step is normally a call to M. D. Anderson Proton Therapy Center. A good place to start is to call the M. D. Anderson Information Line: 1-866-632-4PTC (4782) or take advantage of the self referral on-line form using the link To Use The Form on the HOME page. You will be given some preliminary screening. Once over this hurtle you will be given a date for a visit to the Proton Therapy Center.
The goals of this visit are to determine if proton therapy is appropriate for your particular case. M.D. Anderson will try to accommodate all patients but not every patient may be a suitable candidate for proton therapy. For example, men with cancer spread outside of the prostate or hip replacements may not be optimal candidates for proton therapy. Once accepted you will be scheduled for subsequent tests and procedures to prepare you for proton therapy.
Simulation Day Visit
X-rays and CT scans are taken to design plates and compensators used only for your prostate for precise radiation accuracy and to minimize side effects. M. D. Anderson will give you a detailed description of what you need to do to prepare for this day.
Treatment Process (38 treatments)
You will be assigned a time for your treatment. When you arrive at the Proton Therapy Center check-in with the receptionist using your patient card. When the receptionist scans your patient card the Radiation Therapist are alerted that you are in the building automatically.
Normally on your first day of treatment a Radiation Therapists will come to the lobby for you and take you to the patient waiting area. On all other visits go directly to the patient waiting room (not the lobby) at least 30 minutes in advance of your assigned time. You no longer need to use an enema as you did on Simulation Day.
Your challenge each treatment day is to fill your bladder with water above the minimum level. This challenge is different for each person, but it is important to realize that water takes time to work its way to your bladder. It is also important to not overfill your bladder as it causes your bladder to lie on your prostate not to mention the fact that you will be uncomfortable.
Here is one persons practice: I’m scheduled for 3:55pm. Between 2:30 and 3:00pm I drink 30 ounces of water and at 3:15 I drive to the Proton Therapy Center and I am in the waiting area before 3:25pm. The key seems to be the quantity of water and drinking it well before treatment.
When arriving in the waiting area get a hospital gown from the changing area drawer. Some wear two gowns, one frontward and one backward while other prefer one gown holding the back closed when walking around. Put your clothes in a locker and wait your turn. The wait is rarely long.
Put your patient tag in your sock as the Radiation Therapist scans the bar code each treatment.
While another patient is being treated you will be invited to the next room to have your bladder read. Once your bladder is read return to the waiting area. If you fail to pass quite often you do not need to drink additional water as the water you already drank is working its way to your bladder.
When the patient being treated returns to the waiting room you are to head for the treatment room without being invited.
Once in the treatment area go directly to the treatment table and lie down. A balloon will be inserted in your rectum, the table will be adjusted to your body and the Radiation Therapist does the rest. Try not to move until treatment is complete.
When complete send the next patient in for treatment.
How Do I Know I’m Cured?
After your last treatment you ring a gong at a little ceremony and go home. That’s it! In 3 months and 6 months you return for blood work and have a consultation with your doctor. For those living far away you can be given a kit and mail in your blood as different labs don’t necessarily come up with the same results and M. D. Anderson wants accurate controlled results. Your PSA should drop and the cancer should be gone.
Ban Capron, 4/19/2009