There is a growing plethora of abbreviations and clever names associated with prostate cancer treatment technology. Currently on the often confusing list are terms like DaVinci, robotic, cryo, laparoscopic, IMRT, radiation, pencil beam, photons, protons, x-rays, CyberKnife, HIFU, brachytherapy, seeds, and so on. Now there is another name to add to the list: TSB therapy, short for a unique cancer treatment technology called the TumorSaber Beam.
Although TSB therapy is one the lesser known treatment options, it nonetheless has been effectively used to battle cancer in the United States for many years and is now offered by over a dozen facilities with more on the way. But despite its distinctive characteristics that make it uniquely beneficial for treating many types of cancer including prostate cancer, it is only now gaining the widespread recognition it deserves.
How does TSB work?
TSB therapy is a non-invasive (non-surgical) treatment administered through the skin via a precisely targeted invisible external beam. It is painless and requires only brief daily exposure to the TumorSaber beam. Treatment continues for the number of consecutive days needed to achieve the total dosage prescribed for each individual patient. With very few restrictions, patients may carry on normal activity during the treatment period and generally feel few, if any side effects.
The TSB advantage
TSB therapy destroys the ability of the targeted cancer cells to reproduce, while having minimal impact on surrounding healthy tissue. While some healthy tissue may be affected as the beam enters the body on the way to the tumor site, the energy is at a relatively low level until it reaches the target. Once the TumorSaber beam reaches the target area the full remaining bulk of its energy is released, thus completely avoiding any impact on healthy tissue beyond the tumor. This can potentially provide the dual benefit of reducing the risk of some undesirable side effects and of new cancer developing in nearby healthy tissue, even years later.
Once the TumorSaber beam reaches the target area the full remaining bulk of its energy is released, thus completely avoiding any impact on healthy tissue beyond …
This is in sharp contrast with so-called conventional radiation also administered via a beam, but which affects healthy tissue both on the way into and out of the patient’s body. Because TSB can precisely target the tumor with only minimal impact on entry and no impact on exit, it is often ideal for treating cancers of the brain, eye, breast, neck, spine, prostate and any area where eliminating the exit impact is critical. It is also uniquely well-suited for treating many pediatric cancers that may otherwise be very difficult to safely treat, and TSB usage is growing rapidly in that area.
Challenges for TSB
Insurance coverage may be the primary obstacle preventing widespread use of TSB therapy. While some insurance providers see the benefits and do offer coverage, others self-servingly argue that it’s too expensive, too new, or no better than other forms of treatment—not “medically necessary” in their opinion. Despite the fact that these excuses are demonstrably false, those companies will likely maintain their financially expedient position until public pressure becomes too great to fight. The outcry along with falling costs for TSB therapy will hopefully turn the tide toward more universal coverage soon.
… how it differs from other approaches to cancer treatment must be explained to the public in simple, easily understandable language …
Public relations is yet another challenge. Confusion about what exactly TumorSaber therapy is, what its advantages are, and how it differs from other approaches to cancer treatment must be explained to the public in simple, easily understandable language. Patients might then be more likely to proactively ask about TSB when their doctor fails to include it on their list of treatment options.
Despite these challenges, TSB treatment availability continues to grow across the country and internationally because its benefits are indisputable. Today, TumorSaber beam therapy—also known as proton beam therapy (PBT)—is increasingly acknowledged as one of the most advanced cancer treatment therapies available.
© 2015 Ron Nelson / The After Proton Blog
All Rights Reserved.
Not medical advice — Consult your doctor!
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How to use the above article
To help someone unfamiliar with proton therapy evaluate it with as little bias as possible, give them a copy of the above article. Because they will not have heard of TumorSaber, they will be insulated from any existing confusion relating to terminology. It will also eliminate the impact of any prior exposure to negative media spin about proton.
Chicken, trucks, and therapy
As they read about this “new” therapy, the very distinctive high-tech-sounding name itself—TumorSaber—could put them in a more positive and open frame of mind. The fact is, people want state-of-the-art treatment, and our impressions are influenced by terminology. This is true in every area of life, and medicine is no exception.
Would you rather have a Premium Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Deluxe Sandwich, or fried chicken on a bun? MacDonalds knows we’d prefer the former. How about driving a Super Duty F-250 King Ranch, or a big pickup truck? Ford knows which terminology is better. This is marketing and like it or not, medicine involves marketing, too.
The cancer treatment lexicon
Here is what I have observed concerning the cancer treatment lexicon. Surgery is not cool, and patients who had prostate cancer surgery are more likely to euphemistically say, “I had it taken out,” or even “I had a prostatectomy” than “I had surgery,” which can sound archaic or even barbaric to some. Also, someone who had DaVinci robotic surgery is highly unlikely to say, “I had surgery.” They will almost invariably say, “I had DaVinci,” as if it were something else entirely. The listener might react to “surgery” with “Oooh, gee, surgery, hmm?” but might well respond to “DaVinci” with “Oh, yeah? DaVinci? Cool!”
… someone who had DaVinci robotic surgery is highly unlikely to say, “I had surgery.” They will almost invariably say, “I had DaVinci,” as if it were something else entirely.
The same is true for radiation. Patients are intrigued by terms like CyberKnife, IMRT, and pencil beam—all variations on radiotherapy. Few will say they had “conventional” or “photon/x-ray” radiation because people are generally unaware there is any other kind. In fact, they believe they have done something extraordinary beyond mere radiation by having had IMRT, ignoring the fact that the “R” stands for radiation. Or they might at least take a careful look at the very high-tech sounding CyberKnife (another variant of traditional radiation), regardless of the absence of both knives and cyber-anything.
A comment like “I want the best technology available, so I’m considering DaVinci, but I’m also looking into CyberKnife” is not rare. It contains buzzwords that make the speaker feel good.
It’s marketing and it works.
But wait: what about proton???
Sadly, proton is often not even considered. The vast majority of the population does not realize there are two extremely different varieties of radiation: photons (x-rays) and protons—identical words but for one letter. If someone considering radiation is asked, “Are you thinking about photon or proton?” they will likely slide into the deer-in-the-headlights blank stare.
Proton has in many ways become mired in the messy cancer treatment lexicon. It doesn’t sound different enough to distinguish it from traditional photon x-ray radiation. On a short list of treatment options presented to a cancer patient, radiation would probably be listed, but proton therapy would not warrant its own line item. This leaves it entirely up to the patient to independently ask the unlikely question, “Radiation? Gee, I wonder if there is more than one kind to consider.”
… misinformation and negative spin can bias that patient against giving proper consideration to what might be the best avenue …
You and I know proton beam therapy can sometimes be an excellent choice. But we also know misinformation and negative spin about proton can bias a patient against giving proper consideration to what might be the best avenue for their treatment. They hear “proton” and think, “Oh, right, I’ve heard about that. It’s the expensive, experimental radiation that’s no different than the regular kind. Plus, I can’t get it here anyway, so I’ll just go down the street for the regular radiation everybody uses. It’s basically the same thing, right?”
Wrong. It’s different. So what if we present the proton option to them under a different name to help them consider it with an open mind? What if we tell them about TumorSaber therapy?
PBT is TSB
So what is proton therapy? It is TumorSaber Beam Therapy. PBT is TSB. Maybe under a different name proton would have been more widely recognized as the unique therapy it is, and less likely to have been viewed as little more than a needlessly expensive form of regular radiation. It’s probably too late for a name change, so we’ll have to work a little harder to promote it as a treatment option in a category of its own, separate from other (traditional) radiation. It’s different, and that difference matters.
… you probably started thinking, “Hey, wait a second, this sounds like proton. What gives?”
If you read this blog post top to bottom then you were hopefully intrigued and curious enough about the new TSB therapy to read further. But because you likely already know about proton therapy, around the third paragraph you probably started thinking, “Hey, wait a second, this sounds like proton. What gives?” If that was your reaction, good for you! But those still in the dark about proton would react differently.
And if you jumped to the end of this blog post to see the punch line, you cheated. Next time have a little fun: start at the top and read to the bottom!
I’d love to hear your reaction, so please and share your thoughts!