When 78-year-old Israeli cancer patient Lela Parnes stumbled upon the Alpha DaRT treatment in 2017, with information from a friend of hers, she had just received her third diagnosis of cancer in multiple organs, as part of a long journey that had started in 2013.
Lela’s Cancer Treatment Journey
Lela had first been diagnosed with cancer in 2013, as a pensionaire enjoying life with her 4 children and 9 grandchildren. Back then, a tumor was detected on her right kidney. After participating in a clinical trial for an experimental therapy that failed, she had her kidney removed.
Only a few months after her surgery, another tumor was detected in her right lung and in her hip bones. This time she decided to undergo light radiation therapy together with another experimental treatment. Similar to her previous experience, this one also did not achieve success. She even experimented herself with alternative therapies – again, without success. Eventually, a light chemotherapy treatment “silenced the tumor,” in Lela’s words.
Unfortunately, in 2017, she observed a growth on her right cheek. She tried to get rid of the growth with a special cream, but when this did not work, she consulted with a dermatologist who diagnosed her with squamous cell carcinoma. A visit to a plastic surgeon revealed multiple similar sites on her cheek. The doctor recommended to her a series of painful treatments to remove these lesions. First, they would scrape off the tumor growths, and then replace the skin with transplanted tissue. Then, she would have to undergo toxic chemotherapy and conventional radiation therapy, with its known unpleasant side effects. The surgical part of the treatment, she was warned, would probably cause permanent disfiguration of her face.
Lela felt that this series of treatments was not right for her and was inclined not to accept them, even though there were no other obvious alternatives. In the end, she agreed to undergo radiation therapy and had just booked her appointment, when a friend of hers told her about an advertisement on the internet for an experimental trial of a new treatment called Alpha DaRT. The clinical trial was ongoing at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva, with radiation oncologist Prof. Aron Popovtzer, and oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Eli Rosenfeld. Lela contacted the study coordinator, with a ray of hope that maybe this new therapy would work, even if the others had failed. Within 2 days, she had an appointment with Prof. Popovtzer. Shortly afterward, she was enrolled in the clinical trial for skin cancer of the head and neck.
Lela’s Alpha DaRT treatment experience
Lela’s Alpha DaRT experience was unlike any of her previous ordeals with various modalities of cancer therapy. She entered the hospital as an outpatient, and the entire procedure of implanting the DaRTs lasted less than one hour. Lela commented, “Until a few years ago, I would have had to undergo aggressive therapies with a lot of pain and anxiety. With this new therapy, Alpha DaRT, I felt no pain, and left the hospital feeling happy, with a big bandage on my right cheek.”
Fifteen days later, the DaRTs were removed. She had suffered no significant side effects during the entire treatment period, and the tumors on her cheek had disappeared. One year after treatment, she returned to Prof. Popovtzer for her annual follow-up, and he reported that there had been no recurrence of the skin cancer. In fact, amazingly, he observed no evidence from the appearance of her cheek that she was even treated for skin cancer at all. Lela was overjoyed. She had not spent even one night in the hospital during the previous year. She had been given local anesthesia and the DaRT procedure was quick, she felt no acute pain and no longer-lasting side effects, as with her previous experiences with chemotherapy and conventional radiation therapy. With a big smile she said, “Everyday, I am so grateful again, morning and evening, for this treatment.”