After traveling to Florida for previous prostate cancer treatments, Hampton lawyer Joe Stellute found a highly effective treatment tool close home when his cancer later metastasized to his hip.
Radiation oncologist at Sentara CarePlex Hospital, Dr. Song Kang, recommended stereotactic body radiotherapy. The nonsurgical procedure precisely delivers a high dose of radiation in a few short sessions, effectively destroying tumors but sparing surrounding tissue.
"I experienced no side effects," says Mr. Stellute, 77. "The procedure is very easily and quickly done."
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis
When Mr. Stellute was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, he opted for proton therapy treatment in Jacksonville, Fla. The nonsurgical therapy is a less invasive alternative to traditional radiation therapy. Proton beams disturb atoms in the tumor and destroy cancer cells. Unlike X-ray radiation, it doesn't expose the surrounding area to radiation.
Mr. Stellute lived in Jacksonville temporarily and received about 30 treatments, going Monday through Friday for several weeks.
Seven years later, in 2015, prostate cancer returned. This time, Mr. Stellute traveled to a clinic near Miami for cryotherapy, a same-day, minimally invasive outpatient procedure using gas to freeze and kill cancer cells.
Cancer Returns to Hip
In 2019 Mr. Stellute's blood work concerned his radiation oncologist Dr. Kang in Hampton. His prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels had risen above normal. PSA is a substance produced by the prostate gland. An elevated level in the bloodstream can indicate a prostate infection, inflammation, enlargement or cancer.
"For prostate patients, when they see a rise in PSA, they will do a PET scan, and it will show if there's some indication of cancer spreading or metastasizing," Mr. Stellute says.
The scan picked up a lesion on his hip, showing that the cancer had spread from the original site. In the prostate to the hip.
Dr. Kang told Mr. Stellute about a treatment option at Sentara CarePlex Hospital – this time near his home and office. Varian TrueBeam® Radiotherapy System is a highly accurate nonsurgical technology that destroys cancer cells in less time and without damaging surrounding tissues.
"With recent data that suggests a benefit to stereotactic radiation in patients with limited metastatic disease, it really is the perfect time to be able to offer this treatment to more patients in a seamless, convenient way," Dr. Kang says.
The flexible, customizable treatment continuously monitors tumor movements when a patient moves, even natural breathing. With stereotactic body radio therapy (SBRT), doctors can target a smaller area than they can with traditional radiation therapy. This is especially important for patients, like Mr. Stellute, who have already received radiation during previous treatments.
TrueBeam shortens treatment times considerably. Without the technology, treating the hip metastatic cancer could have taken 10-15 treatments over two to three weeks, says Melissa Holloway, radiation oncology team coordinator at CarePlex.
Instead, Mr. Stellute was treated over three days in September 2019, receiving three SBRT treatments in sessions lasting 20-30 minutes from check in to check out.
"This was a very good form of treatment for spot radiation," Mr. Stellute explains. "It's very effective."
For more information about stereotactic radiation therapy or TrueBeam, call the Sentara Cancer Network at (888) 220-2214.