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HAMPTON -- A recent study shows people who underwent proton therapy were almost cancer free five years after treatment. The study published last month by the University of Florida indicates low- and intermediate-risk cancer patients were 99% cancer free and those at high risk were 76% cancer free.

These same treatments that worked so well at the Florida Proton Centerare available at the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, which opened in 2010. Proton beam radiation, unlike standard radiation, allows for high doses of radiation to be delivered to tumors without affecting surrounding tissue and has fewer, less dramatic side effects than traditional cancer treatments.

Dr. Christopher Sinesi, medical director at the institute, calls Hampton Roads the ground zero of prostate cancer. Many cancers are treated at HUPTI; however, prostate cancer is one of the most common.

One of his first prostate cancer patients was Ronald Cosman.

'I tell everyone about this, hoping that it will save them the way it saved me. I go around giving talks about it now because it brings people hope,' the 68-year-old states.

Cosman says he was cancer free after 44 treatments and had no side effects during treatment. that was something he feared since his father was burned while undergoing conventional radiation treatment.

Dr. Sinesi says it's common for those patients to experience bowel pain since radiation goes through the prostate and into the rectum and bladder.

He adds that the region is ahead of the medical curve in proton therapy well ahead of places like Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, Duke and the Mayo Clinic, which are just now building their first proton therapy centers.

The Florida study looked at the use of protons for the entire prostate treatment whereas prior studies concentrated on a combination of proton and standard x-ray treatments, Dr. Sinesi explained.

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