Health Check: Patients Benefit From Radiation Technology

Vicki Lindberg was diagnosed with breast cancer in September and she said, "I was very shocked when I found out. I've called it speed bumps in my life. The cancer was a speed bump."

Now - a small victory. She just completed what she calls her insurance policy. Thirty-three sessions of radiation.

Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Hadi Zahra, says thanks to improved radiation technology called Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy or IMRT, cancer patients like Vicki can get the treatment they need with fewer side effects while sparing their surrounding healthy tissues.

Traditional radiation therapy uses just two to four beams, only giving radiation from certain angles. This treatment uses hundreds of them, all uniquely arranged for each patient.

Dr. Zahra said, "It's extremely exciting to be a part of the field that's emerging with new and newer technologies every day, thereby allowing us to treat our patients with more precision and accuracy leading to better local control and curability."

With IMRT, there are a number of steps taken, including lasers, to ensure patients are in the right position and that the right area is being treated.

It starts with a CT Scan to get the tumor's exact location. The next step is carefully planning the dosage. Finally, a snapshot, just seconds before treatment to ensure accuracy.

For patients it means better results which is what Vicki is hoping for.

"I feel like I've accomplished another stepping stone," said Lindberg.

She's also counting on a few less bumps in the road this year.

Dr. Zahra says every cancer patient does not require this form of radiation therapy .But some head and neck, prostate, gastrointestinal and breast cancer patients are good candidates and have benefited from this treatment. The treatments are daily and can last anywhere from four to eight weeks.

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