LOCAL NEWS

For Utah Cancer Patients, Proton Beam Therapy Coming To Salt Lake City

Nov 20, 2018, 6:41 PM | Updated: 11:55 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Spend just a few minutes with Melissa Quigley and you’ll see right away how she prefers to find the humor in life.

“It’s just really cool. I’m psyched,” she said with a laugh.

Her demeanor certainly helped when she found out she had cancer.

“It was scary,” she said with another loud laugh.

Her cancer was a rare type next to her spinal cord.

With normal radiation treatment, the collateral damage could have left her as a paraplegic.

“So, I went down to Houston. I was down there for two months. My family was here. My husband figuring out how to make it work in our house,” she said, followed by another one of her laughs.

Quigley, who lives in Utah, had to go to Houston for a procedure called proton beam therapy.

Melissa Quigley

It’s a type of radiation therapy that wasn’t offered anywhere near Utah.

“I like to compare it like a needle with a bomb on the end,” she said. “It goes in, doesn’t do a whole lot of damage, everything is fine, and then it gets right to where it’s supposed to be, and boom.”

That boom is why so many doctors love the procedure.

“It penetrates to a specified depth and then stops very abruptly in the tumor,” said Dr. Bill Salter, who is the Director of Radiation Oncology at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. “So, it limits the damage in the energy and the damage it deposits in the tumor and reduces collateral damage to healthy tissues.”

Soon, though, proton beam therapy will be offered at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held there Tuesday morning to announce the new facility.

“It’s an additional tool that will be a quantum leap into the future and allow us to treat patients that now are leaving the state to get this treatment elsewhere,” said Dr. Dennis Shrieve, who works with the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Usually, this type of treatment can last from 5-to-8 weeks with five treatments a week.

For those living in Utah, it’s a pretty big trip for treatment.

“It’s hard to be away from your family for that long and it’s stressful,” said Quigley.

Patients in Utah will soon be able to focus on getting better instead of traveling.

It also means cancer just might not get the last laugh.

“It’s the future. It can do so many things. And it’s like magic,” she said.

The new facility will be named in honor of Senator Orrin Hatch.

It’s expected to be open in the fall of 2020.

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For Utah Cancer Patients, Proton Beam Therapy Coming To Salt Lake City