New radiation technology helps cancer patients in Mid-Michigan

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FLINT (WJRT) (10/30/19) - It may look like something out of a sci-fi movie, but a promising cancer fighting technology is giving new hope to those battling the disease.

This treatment is being done at McLaren's Proton Therapy Center in Flint.

A particle accelerator called a synchrotron delivers radiation to cancerous tumors using a stream of focused protons to the targeted area of the body with cancer.

The first patient to receive this treatment, a police officer from Eaton Rapids, described how much better this form of radiation was on his Stage 3 prostate cancer.

"The treatments were easy, I have to say quite honestly. I had no side effects other than a little bit of fatigue. I didn't feel any pain. Got a little redness on the hips because that's where the proton beams were hitting," said Marshall Police Officer David Wood.

McLaren is one of only two hospitals in the state to offer proton therapy.

Unlike traditional X-ray radiation, which affects other parts of the body near the cancer, proton therapy limits radiation migrating into surrounding healthy tissue.

Being able to specifically target just the cancer has other benefits as well.

"You get less complications and better quality of life after treatment. You reduce the risk of second malignancy and problems from radiation. Basically, if you can put the radiation where the target is, why do you need to treat normal tissue," said McLaren Proton Therapy Center Medical Director Hesham Gayar.

Fifty patients have been treated since the program started last December, with more and more uses for the treatment being explored for a variety of cancers in parts of the body that even surgery may not be suited for.

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