Getting a cancer diagnosis is a very frightening experience but with state-of-the-art treatments coming out everyday it should be cancer that's running scared.
When it comes to fighting cancer, the Avera Sacred Heart Cancer Center is turning to the latest medical technology, to treat and beat this ugly disease.
"If you don't keep up with technology you're not doing the best for your patients and as a radiation oncologist it's critical that you stay up with technology." Said Dr. Michael Peterson, radiation oncologist at the Cancer Center.
Say hello to the Varian Linear Accelerator. An accelerator is a machine that produces the beams of radiation used to zap tumors. But this machine is state of the art, and also gives doctors a crystal clear look inside the body.
"Previously we could not take a CT like image or CAT scan like image of the patient's treatment area we were limited to two dimensional X-ray type images so this is way way better because it gives us a true 3D view as opposed to a 2D view." Said Dr. Peterson.
The accelerator is able to do this by physically rotating itself around a patient, this gives doctors every angle and potential approach before administering radiation.
"If you can't get an extremely accurate view of where your beams are going to be treating there's no way you can do the best job for the patient." Said Dr. Peterson.
With the new accelerator, radiation treatments can also be done about half the time, meaning a more precise treatment for the patient.
"That's first of all the name of the game in radiation treatment because you need to hit the cancer hard while sparing surrounding tissues and it also allows us to treat faster and it's important both because nobody wants to lay on a hard table for hours at a time we want to be boom! Done!" Said Dr. Peterson.
Time is not just a matter of patient convenience, it also limits the amount of radiation exposure to healthy tissue and organs that tend to move around during a treatment session.
"Organs like your gut and to some extent your bladder and prostate if you're a man, are moving all the time so if you treat faster you're being more accurate because you have less problems with internal motion." Said Dr. Peterson.
Getting new tools is always exciting for doctors and technicians but behind these shiny new machines is a bigger message. It's proof of a commitment from Avera Sacred Heart that patients won't have to travel outside of their community to get the latest and greatest in cancer-fighting technology.
Doctors and technicians are still testing and training with the new accelerator but will be ready to start treatments as early as next week. For more information about different cancer treatments just call 877-AT-AVERA.