New Radiation Oncology Treatments Available on Madison's East Side

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With a newly installed, state-of-the-art linear accelerator, more radiation oncology patients can be treated at the UW Health East Clinic. This will provide cancer patients not only the standard radiation therapy they have received in the past, but will also offer access to those who need the same leading-edge, highly sophisticated treatments and clinical trials they receive at the main campus hospital, yet at a location easily accessed for those who live east of Madison.


East Side Location Offers Greater Convenience for Patients


“Before this machine was recently installed, we could treat most radiation oncology patients, but not all of them,” said Greg Cooley, MD, a clinical associate professor of human oncology with the UW Carbone Cancer Center and the East Clinic’s radiation oncologist. “We are now up to speed on the advanced technology that I previously had to deliver only at University Hospital in downtown Madison.”


Like most medical technology, radiation treatment machines have evolved rapidly over the past few decades, in particular with image-guided therapy that allows for a more precise daily treatment. Now, Cooley can provide this specialized treatment from the start to finish of a patient’s radiation therapy. With this one machine, radiation oncologists can perform far more sophisticated treatment plans, including four-dimension image guided treatment, with great precision. The machine can monitor for patient motion and temporarily stop the treatment if the patient moves too much, even from excessive breathing, if required.


“All of these improvements combined allow us to more accurately and precisely treat the cancer or areas of spread, while better avoiding those organs we want to lower the dose to,” Cooley said. “In some cases we can push doses harder to get better local control of the cancer which potentially translates to a better cure rate, and/or lowers the risk of side effects.”


Cooley is notably excited when discussing the progress radiation oncology has made over the years to improve patient outcomes. For example, just over a decade ago, patients with inoperable lung cancer typically received six to seven weeks of treatment, and only 20 percent of them survived five years after diagnosis. With today’s technological advances, a patient with the same type of cancer can receive three to five focused treatments with far fewer side effects on average, and local control rates of 90-100 percent.


“We can apply this ever advancing technology, sometimes with dramatic outcomes. One wants to do the absolute best for patients as if they were your own family,” Cooley said. “That’s one of the reasons why I love this field – there have been so many helpful advances and there are always more on the way.”


According to Cooley, many patients can receive their chemotherapy at many different facilities, but are more limited in radiation options due to the more limiting requirements in setting up such a facility. For their radiation treatments, which often occur daily for several weeks in a row, patients may again choose the UW East Radiation Oncology Clinic, with its easy access from the interstate and closer proximity to communities east of Madison.


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Date Published: 07/01/2016

News tag(s):  cancergregory m cooleyAdvances

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