Proton Therapy Treats Recurrent Brain Tumor

Proton Therapy Treats Recurrent Brain Tumor

Share this
Martha Ramos sits and smiles for the camera, wearing a coursage of yellow and white roses on her wrist.

Proton therapy helped save Martha Ramos’ life. After receiving treatment for a recurrent brain tumor at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the 54-year-old mother of two is back to enjoying a happy and active life in Germantown, Maryland.

Her success is due in part to a cutting-edge treatment called proton therapy—so cutting-edge, in fact, that Martha was the very first patient to receive proton therapy when the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Proton Therapy Center opened its doors in March 2018.

MedStar Georgetown is the first and most experienced in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, to offer proton therapy and the first in the world to offer proton therapy with HYPERSCAN™ technology. HYPERSCAN produces beams that are sharper than other proton systems and treats patients faster.

“I was a little bit nervous to be the first patient at MedStar Georgetown to get proton therapy,” Martha says, “but I trust my medical team wholeheartedly. After the first treatment, I knew what to expect and was very happy.”

Martha was first diagnosed with a brain tumor called oligodendroglioma in 2006. She had surgery to remove the tumor, but in the fall of 2017, routine follow-up imaging revealed that her tumor had returned.

In January 2018, MedStar Georgetown Neurosurgeon Vikram Nayar, MD, removed the second tumor, about the size of a golf ball, in a very complex operation. However, there were some cells deep within Martha’s brain that couldn’t be completely removed with surgery.

For Martha, nothing mattered more than pursuing treatment that would allow her to have more time to be a mother to her children. “I want to be very healthy so I can be there for them and help them in life,” she says.

Martha Ramos, cancer survivor, stands with her arms around her 2 children. All of them are looking at the camera and smiling.

Ensuring that the remaining cells were removed with as few side effects as possible was important to both Martha and her care team.

“Martha has a long life expectancy, so we wanted to eradicate the remaining cells from this second tumor while still preserving her excellent quality of life,” says Anatoly Dritschilo, MD, chair of the Department of Oncology at MedStar Georgetown Proton Therapy Center. “We chose proton therapy because we could irradiate a significantly smaller area of the brain than we could have with conventional radiation.”

Dr. Dritschilo explains that, with conventional radiation, the photons or X-rays travel through the entire brain without stopping. With proton therapy, the radiation is unleashed just inside the target, then stops. That means there is no exit dose to harm healthy brain tissue.

“For Ms. Ramos, proton therapy was advantageous because we could deliver radiation just to the tumor without affecting other areas,” says Dr. Dritschilo. “This results in fewer side effects like dementia or memory loss.”

The treatment achieved great results. “I feel that I responded very well to the proton therapy treatment,” says Martha. “My recovery from the proton therapy was surprisingly fast.”

“After a short time, she was back to living her normal life and we expect her to make a full recovery. Proton therapy was the right option for her,” says Dristchilo.

“I am very, very grateful that my medical team at MedStar Georgetown told me about proton therapy,” says Martha. “I now look forward to a long and happy life.”

To find out if proton therapy may be the right treatment for you, click here or call 202-444-4639 to speak to a clinical expert.

Latest patient stories