House Calls

FAL 2018

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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h o u s e c a l l s { fall 2018 } 47 new horizons HC: How does TrueBeam work? MD : This external radiation machine sends high-powered X-rays directly to the part of the body containing the tumor. As TrueBeam rotates around the tumor, those X-rays kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA. Doctors use computers to move tiny leaflets, located inside the head of the machine, in and out, kind of like painting pixels on a computer screen. In this way, we can control the direction and intensity of the radiation so it only goes to the places where it's needed. HC: What improvements does TrueBeam offer over other treatments? MD: TrueBeam offers an Optical Surface Management System to ensure that patients are oriented exactly the same way each time they receive treatment. We often use this feature to treat patients with breast cancer on their left side, because the heart could be on edge of the radiation field. TrueBeam lets us reproduce a position so that the heart is safely pulled out of the way. HC: In what other scenarios does TrueBeam shine? MD: TrueBeam is also well suited for stereotactic radiation therapy, a treatment that involves delivering large amounts of radiation to the brain or spine within very tight boundaries. A regular treatment might allow one- or two-centimeter margins, but stereotactic therapy permits just a couple millimeters of leeway. HC: How do patients benefit from this technology? MD: Because TrueBeam is so precise, we can deliver higher doses of radiation without damaging the adjacent tissue, which is what usually causes side effects. By avoiding the healthy tissue, the patient experiences fewer negative reactions—for example, difficulty swallowing caused by radiation to the esophagus, cough and shortness of breath from radiation to the lungs, or dry mouth from radiation to the salivary glands. Furthermore, treatment sessions on other machines can take several hours, but we can work faster on TrueBeam, sometimes finishing within minutes. That time adds up over the typical three- to six-session course of radiotherapy. HC: Who are good candidates for treatment with TrueBeam? MD: Most cancer patients are candidates, but we try to reserve TrueBeam for those who really need the precision, such as those whose tumors are located adjacent to very sensitive tissue near the lungs, brain, or spinal cord. P H O T O G R A P H S C O U R T E S Y O F R O P E R S T . F R A N C I S H E A L T H C A R E Straight Shooter Roper St. Francis Healthcare oncologists combat cancer with laser precision using new cutting-edge radiotherapy – J A C Q U I C A L L O W A Y E very day, roughly 83 South Carolina residents receive a cancer diagnosis, about 30 more than just two decades ago. While that statistic sounds alarming, advances in medical technology are keeping pace. The multimillion-dollar TrueBeam radiotherapy system, for instance, gives oncologists a direct line of fire against cancer. Added to the Roper St. Francis Healthcare arsenal in 2016, TrueBeam enables a faster and more precise method of delivering radiation treatment (which is commonly paired with chemotherapy or surgery to slow tumor growth) so that doctors can provide higher doses while reducing damage to nearby healthy tissue. "This state-of-the-art technology places us among the best of the best," says Dr. Mary Decker, one of three RSFH radiation oncology physicians certified on the technology. Here, she fills us in on how TrueBeam has strengthened cancer treatment. Dr. Mary Decker

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