Proton Therapy for Inoperable Esophageal Cancer
The news was daunting when Chester Jarosz was first diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2017.
“Because of my age, which was 79, I could not have an operation on my esophagus, and secondly, I couldn’t have normal radiation because it would damage some of the vital organs in my chest, such as my heart or my lungs,” he explains.
When he was told he had no options for treatment, Chester decided to do his own research online and discovered that MedStar Georgetown University Hospital offers an advanced cancer treatment called proton therapy with HYPERSCAN™. This next generation of radiation treatment more directly delivers radiation by molding to the size and shape of a tumor and sparing the healthy tissue and organs that surround it.
“The radiation was pinpointed, and it went to the exact spot where the cancer was and didn’t go beyond that spot,” Chester says. “And apparently they were the only hospital that offered this new type with HYPERSCAN™, so as far as I was concerned, this is the type of radiation I wanted.”
Chester met with Radiation Oncologist Dr. Keith Unger and learned proton therapy was a viable treatment for his diagnosis.
“Proton therapy allows us to treat in situations where conventional radiation is not even possible,” Dr. Unger explains. “Tumors in the esophagus are surrounded by the heart and the lungs, and we know that with conventional radiation therapy there is a substantial radiation dose going to these normal tissues. Whereas when we apply proton therapy, there is less entrance dose as the radiation enters the body and almost no exit dose after the radiation hits the target.”
Chester received 28 treatments between August and September 2018 with no side effects. When he went back for his follow up scan, it was clear.
“The cancer in my esophagus is gone. Thank God,” Chester says. “It felt great to know that I could do normal things again.”
For Chester, that includes eating normally again. Before his treatment, he could only consume small meals because of the cancer. But now, he can eat what he wants. “That includes a steak, so food tastes excellent to me now, and I feel like I’m a human being again,” Chester says.
He’s also exercising daily, and most importantly, Chester says he’s looking forward to the future with his wife of 54 years – Jane – and their children and grandchildren in the beautiful, serene Virginia countryside he calls home.
“Now I can look forward to taking care of my grandkids and babysitting,” he says. “I thank the Lord that because of the proton therapy, my esophageal cancer is gone. “