More Answers About Cancer

What can I expect?

A diagnosis of cancer is frightening. But experience has taught us that when patients and their families take an active role in their treatment, anxiety can be lessened and a new sense of control can emerge.

What options are available to me?

Radiation therapy is a form of treatment used in the control of localized cancers. In this type of therapy, carefully controlled doses of radiation are used to target and destroy cancer cells. Typically, a patient will receive small doses several times a week for a period of four to seven weeks. Therapy is usually conducted on an outpatient basis in the Radiation Therapy Center on the medical center campus in Columbia or the newest location, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at Maury Regional Spring Hill.

Your team may elect to use intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) to treat the cancer with higher doses of radiation while sparing the healthy surrounding tissue. IMRT may be used to treat patients with head and neck, prostate, pancreatic and other cancers where precisely placed beams can be used to deliver high doses of radiation without harming healthy tissue or organs in close proximity.

The Radiation Therapy Center also uses The Varian® On-Board Imager® (OBI). OBI makes dynamic targeting image-guided radiation (IGRT) more efficient and convenient. The system delivers improved tumor targeting using high resolution, low dose digital imaging in the treatment room. OBI provides the tools to manage changes in position caused by day-to-day set-up conditions as well as changes in position during a patient’s treatment session because of normal respiratory and organ motion. This enables physicians and staff to confidently manage patients and target movement—both before and during treatments. OBI is the latest tool added for radiation treatment of cancer and complements IMRT and brachytherapy.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is a form of radiation therapy in which high doses of radiation are delivered using a very precise beam during three to five treatment sessions. It is generally used for smaller, inoperable lesions and metastases in the liver and lung. This treatment method may eliminate the need for more invasive treatments and reduce treatment time.  Because this approach requires precise patient positioning and exact targeting of the beam, the image guidance system uses CT scans to trace the target.

The Radiation Therapy Center also utilizes brachytherapy, which attacks malignant tumors by placing a radioactive source within or adjacent to cancerous tissue. This treatment allows a physician to use a higher total dose of radiation to treat a smaller area in a shorter period of time than is possible with external radiation. Depending upon the type of cancer, brachytherapy may involve either the implanting of a permanent radioactive sourcea seedor in a temporary manner, in which a catheter is used to deliver radiation through a series of treatments over a short period of time. This technology can be used to treat breast, lung, esophageal, gynecologic, cervical and endometrial tumors.

In addition, the Radiation Therapy Center was the first in the state to utilize the dose verification system for the treatment of breast cancer and is accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.

At Maury Regional, you, your doctors and our staff work as partners. On the first visit to our Radiation Therapy Center, the patient will meet with the radiation oncologist, a medical physician who has undergone specialized training in cancer treatment and the use of radiation as therapy. During this visit, the physician will use state-of-the-art equipment to locate the tumor and define the area to be treated. He will also determine the type of treatment necessary and design a program that is best suited for each individual.

Chemotherapy, or the use of chemical agents to destroy cancer cells, is frequently used to attack cancer. Depending on your case, your doctor and Maury Regional's medical oncologists may utilize one or more chemical agents for your specific type of cancer.

After meeting with your oncologist to discuss your treatment plan, your chemotherapy can be given to you at the Cancer Center at the Columbia Mall or you may be admitted to the Oncology Unit for treatment.

What other information is available?

Your first and best source for answers is your doctor. For more information and support, you can look into one of our support groups or visit the Cancer Resource Center.

Cancer Resource Center

The American Cancer Society offers a Cancer Resource Center at the Cancer Center at Columbia Mall to help patients manage the many aspects of their care, including educational materials, transportation, financial and insurance concerns and finding emotional support.

More information can be found on the web at the American Cancer Society's Web site (http://www.cancer.org).

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