When 78-year-old Ken Donius, of Bruce Township, learned his lung cancer had returned, he wanted to take a different approach to fight it.
He discovered he was a candidate for Beaumont’s proton therapy treatment, an advanced technology that delivers powerful radiation waves directly to the tumor with fewer side effects.
According to Craig Stevens, M.D., Ph.D., chairman, Radiation Oncology, Beaumont Health, “Proton technology enables us to treat the tumor while sparing nearby healthy tissues. This health tissue sparing can be much better than with X-ray therapy. This allows patients with recurrent cancers to be safely treated and hopefully cured, with lower risks for side effects.”
Donius hasn’t skipped a beat in terms of taking care of his vast garden and landscaping and spending time with family and friends.
“Dr. Stevens told me I should be able to tolerate proton therapy radiation very well and I did,” Donius said. “I never felt sick and had only minimal shortness of breath; there were virtually no side effects. I felt strong throughout my treatment and I continue to feel happy and energetic now. I’m eating well, and sleeping well.”
He and his wife Rose Ann will find out how effective proton therapy was in tackling his cancer in about two months, once follow-up testing is conducted.
“This means that Ken’s chance of experiencing side effects down the road is less likely than if we administered traditional radiation or X-rays,” Dr. Stevens added. “For well selected lung cancer cases, proton therapy is the way to go. Beaumont continues to pioneer new health care solutions and provide access to the latest research and technology.”
Compared to X-ray beams, which travel straight through a patient, proton beams stop at the tumor. Adjacent organs are protected from exit dose damage.The Beaumont Proton Therapy Center is one of only 28 in the U.S and the only operational center in Michigan. Since opening in the summer of 2017, Beaumont doctors have treated or consulted with patients across Michigan and 11 other states.
While proton therapy is not effective against all cancers, it can be used to effectively treat solid and localized tumors like the one in Donius’ lung. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
“We listened to Ken’s goals and long-term plan and collaborated with him and his family to develop a care plan that worked best for him,” Dr. Stevens said. “As a result, we are hopeful Ken is going to live a long, symptom-free life.”