Medical Minute: Zapping Away Cancer

This is where you'll find Ben Smith most days. It's a place where he finds peace, but not even scenes like these could calm Ben's fears after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

"You can't run away from yourself. When you first hear that you have gotten cancer, you think, 'ok, it's a death sentence.'"

A death sentence that has played out in his family many times.

Ben Smith added, "My father died of cancer. My mother died of cancer. My brother died of cancer."

Ben became one of the first people in the country to fight his cancer with proton beam therapy.

Nancy Mendenhall, MD, Medical Director at the University of Florida, said, "It opens up the door for all types of new treatment approaches and treatment intensity."

A proton beam carries higher, more targeted doses of radiation straight into the tumor.
Only the tumor gets intense treatment. No surrounding tissue is damaged, unlike standard radiation, where x-rays enter the body, exposing everything in its path to radiation.

Nancy Mendenhall, MD, said, "I think we will see higher tumor control rates. I think we will see lower toxicity rates. I think more patients will survive."

Patients experience few, if any side effects, even when doctors use more powerful doses.

Ben said, "They are confident enough with the amount of radiation that they gave me that this cancer will not come back."

And knowing that, Ben is once again at peace on the water.

For more info:

University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute
(877) 686-6009

WCTV 1801 Halstead Blvd. Tallahassee, FL 32309
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