The fixed beam room, or eyeline, at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute is up and running and radiation oncologist Robert Malyapa, M.D., Ph.D. completed treating the facility’s first eye cancer patient this week.
Susan Porter, a Jacksonville, Fla. native and Mandarin resident, was treated for a choroidal melanoma. This is a type of cancer that arises from one of the layers of the eye. It is a rare cancer, but it is the most common cancer treated with proton therapy. More than 30,000 patients worldwide have received protons for choroidal melanoma.
“I thank God that this hospital is here and the machine is here and that I had that option,” said Porter before her fourth and final treatment. “Otherwise I would have lost my eye.”
The other treatments for choroidal melanoma are removal of the eye or surgical implant of a radioactive patch. With protons, the patient receives four, targeted radiation doses that avoid critical structures around and within the eye. Eye cancer patients treated with protons have a 90 to 95 percent chance of local control of the cancer and an eye retention rate of approximately 85 percent.
“There are less complications related to treatment with protons,” said Malyapa. “Our number one goal is to cure the patient, second is to retain the eye and third is to retain vision.”
Malyapa is an assistant professor at the UF Department of Radiation Oncology and an internationally known specialist in proton therapy for cancers of the head and neck, central nervous system and paranasal sinuses. Since 2005, he has served as one of the founding physicians at UF Proton Therapy Institute.
To start, the types of eye cancer that will be treated at UF Proton Therapy Institute include intraocular melanoma, choroidal metastasis and choroidal hemangiomas. Other disorders will be added as protocols are developed.
University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute