Brain tumors are the second most common group of childhood cancers. Some cases have a poor outlook, while some are solved with standard surgery. It is only recently that healthcare providers are beginning to employ proton radiation therapy to treat pediatric brain tumors.
Not long after the case of Ashya King — a 5-year-old brain cancer patient from the UK at the center of a recent controversy, who received the first of his 30 proton therapies last week in Prague — Logan Green, also a 5-year-old brain cancer patient from Arizona, completed his series of radiation treatments.
It was just a few months ago in June when Logan developed a persistent headache that progressed to unconsciousness. He was air-lifted to a hospital for emergency care, and was then diagnosed with an aggressive, inoperable brain tumor. The doctors told Logan’s parents he only had 3 days left to live and that administering further treatment would be of no benefit.
Logan’s radiation proton therapy sessions concluded Tuesday, September 23, 2014, and he is now excited for his first day of kindergarten, thanks to a second opinion that recommended surgery to remove most of the tumor, followed by radiation therapy to treat the remaining parts and prevent recurrence.
Logan’s mother, Crisandra Green, had her apprehensions about traditional X-ray radiation treatment. She did research on proton therapy and found that it was the less damaging way to go. Her son started receiving treatment from the Rady Children’s Hospital at Scripps Proton Therapy Center early in August. His ping pong ball-sized tumor was located between the brainstem and cerebellum, which innervates body movement, emotion, and visceral functions. A high level of accuracy and preservation of health brain tissue was crucial.
Logan was given pencil-beam scanning, the latest development in proton therapy, which allows the dose of radiation to build up by layers that conform exactly to the tumor. While Logan’s treatment was successful, he will be observed across several years for recurrence of the tumor. For now, he and his family are thankful he is alive and eager to return to school next month.