Robert Jones visited ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Somerset for two months BY JENNIFER AMATO Staff Writer
Patricia and Robert Jones NORTH BRUNSWICK — In the year 2000, Robert Jones found out he had bladder cancer.
He received immunotherapy treatment at the time, and must be checked every six months by his urologist.
Every three years or so, he has had a recurrence on the lining of his bladder, and his surgeon must remove the small tumors.
If that wasn’t enough, in January of this year, his urologist realized that a prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) had not been ordered in a few years to check Jones’ prostate. Although there is no connection between bladder and prostate cancer, the fact that the 65-year-old man was getting older warranted a blood test.
Dealing with the bladder cancer situation, Jones was not thinking about prostate cancer; however, his PSA levels were at a 6.4 and 7.9, far above the normal level of 3 to 4.
“I had no problems whatsoever,” the North Brunswick resident said of the surprise of hearing his diagnosis.
Jones’ urologist said he could take a “watchful waiting approach,” since prostate cancer is one of the slowest-growing cancers. Yet Jones said his initial reaction was to “get this done now, as soon as possible.”
So, Jones began researching various treatment options. There was surgery, brachytherapy radiation, cyberknife therapy or conventional intensity-modulated radiation therapy.
Then Jones read about a new proton therapy center that would be opening nearby in the spring. Reading that proton therapy would be “less harmful with less after-effects” than his other options, Jones decided to visit ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Somerset.
“it seemed timely, and it was only seven miles away,” his wife, Patricia, said. “it was a good option for us.”
Jones’ fact-finding mission led him to Dr. Brian Chon, the medical director of Pro- Cure.
Conventional radiation is like an X-ray used to destroy tumor cells, Chon said. The rays enter the body like a gun, he explained, but there is “collateral damage” from the exit dose.
Instead, at ProCure, the use of protons is more like a firecracker, which detonates with all of its energy into the tumor itself, with no exit dose, he said. therefore, the proton beam targets a specific organ with no damage to the surrounding tissues. As a result, there are no side effects to the bowel, rectum and bladder in the case of treating prostate cancer, Chon said.
“on average, we can spare 60 to 70 percent of radiation to surrounding tissues,” Chon said. “we minimize any loss of quality of life.”
Beginning in April, Jones received the treatment for 20 minutes a day, Monday through Friday, for eight and a half weeks — a total of 44 treatments.
Jones said he would change into a hospital gown, lie in a cast made specifically for his body so that he would lie still, get the beam, and be off the table, all within a halfhour. he said he would go at 8:30 a.m. each morning so that he had the rest of the day to continue on with his daily activities, which were never disrupted.
“I got it out of the way first thing in the morning, and I had the rest of the day to do what I had to do,” Jones said.
Jones said that some days he wondered if there was actually anything going on, since the treatments had no pain or side effects. he did experience a minor sunburnlike redness on his hips and some fatigue at night, but those dissipated, he said. Also, there was slight frequency and urgency of urination, but that subsided as well.
Besides the success of the treatment, Jones appreciated the support system at Pro- Cure. he and nine other men undergoing treatment formed the “Brotherhood of the Blue Bottle,” in reference to the plastic bottles given to prostate patients to hydrate in preparation for treatments, to help each other cope with their disease.
The men were part of the second graduating class in June, and Jones said he still keeps in touch with the other patients, attending other men’s graduations.
“this very loving, family-type atmosphere … it’s almost like it’s unbelievable,” Patricia said.
According to Chon, Jones’ prognosis is “excellent” now.
“we expect him to be fully cured and go on with his life like nothing happened,” Chon said.
Jones said he feels “great” and is not worried about a reoccurrence, since his PSA level is now at 3. he will have another checkup in six months.
“Based on the initial results, we feel we did address the issue and we won’t have to worry about it going further,” Jones said. “It’s hard to believe it’s all over now.”
Chon said that ProCure is the only facility in the New York metro area to offer the treatment, and one of 10 in the United States.
Although Jones was treated for prostate cancer, proton therapy can be used for other cancer patients, depending on the type and stage, Chon said. Lung cancer, brain tumors, selective breast, head and neck, and childhood cancers may be applicable and suitable.
“Protons are the most advanced and sophisticated way of delivering treatment today,” Chon said.
For more information, visit www.procure.com/NJ. Contact Jennifer Amato at firstname.lastname@example.org.