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New Treatment Option At The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center Provides Hope For Inoperable Tumors With Cyberknife®

June 12, 2009

The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center (SCCC) at Centennial Medical Center last week began treating patients with a new non-invasive weapon in the battle against cancer. The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center is the first and only cancer center in Middle Tennessee to offer image-guided robotic stereotactic radiosurgery.

The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center is proud to continue delivering on its promise to provide the highest quality, most advanced cancer treatment options in our region with the addition of the CyberKnife® stereotactic radiosurgery system,” said Rocky Billups, administrator for The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center Network. “With this new image-guided robotic technology, we are giving new hope to those whose tumors were previously thought to be inoperable and untreatable.”

According to Billups, The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center now has the ability to treat tumors anywhere in the body, even the brain, spine, lung, liver, pancreas and prostate, with such accuracy that there is little or no damage to surrounding tissue.

The new robotic radiosurgery technology is so sophisticated that it adjusts with every breath patients take. The robotic system tracks the tumor’s position, detects any movement of the tumor or the patient, and automatically corrects radiation delivery. It then targets the tumor with multiple pin-point beams of high-energy radiation, destroying abnormal tissue.

“If you’ve ever seen a snake charmer keep a cobra focused on his hand, you have an idea of what the robotic arm looks like during treatment,” said James Gray, M.D., a radiation oncologist at The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center trained in the technology. “This remarkable tracking system even detects abrupt chest motion, such as a cough or sneeze, shutting off the beam until the respiratory cycle resumes its normal motion and the tumor can be confidently tracked again. This heightened accuracy and targeting confidence allows for safer, yet more intensive, radiation delivery.”

Therapy can be directed at any part of the body, from any direction, with the help of a robotic arm. Treatment is pain-free and, unlike other forms of radiation therapy, can be completed within one to five days. Treatments are performed on an outpatient basis with no recovery time, allowing patients to return to normal activities immediately.

The total investment for the robotic radiosurgery system and construction of a dedicated CyberKnife suite in The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center was approximately $5.7 million. Last year, Centennial Medical Center announced a $143 million campus expansion project that includes a dedicated Cancer Center. The Cancer Center will integrate inpatient nursing units, radiation oncology, operating rooms, a new comprehensive cancer imaging center, outpatient services and laboratory services.

According to Ed Hunt, M.D., who is also trained on the robotic radiosurgery technology, CyberKnife – unlike other radiosurgery options such as Gamma Knife – does not require invasive head or body frames. He also said the newer treatment is ideal for treating both cancerous and benign tumors that are medically inoperable or surgically complex.

According to a recent report published by the Journal of Clinical Oncology, by 2030, Americans age 65 and older will account for 70% of all cancer diagnoses — up from about 61% of current cases. The cancer sites with the highest percentage of increase between 2010 and 2030 are expected to be those that are often more complex to treat: stomach (67%), liver (59%), myeloma (57%), prostate (55%), pancreas (55%), bladder (54%), lung (52%), and colorectum (52%).

The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center in Nashville is one of 10 HCA hospitals to offer the new CyberKnife technology and one of only 107 facilities nationwide.

The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center Network—accredited by The Cancer Commission of the American College of Surgeons with commendations for providing superior cancer care—is second to none in the Southeast for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. With eight affiliated medical facilities, The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center Network has grown to become the largest community-based, privately-funded diagnostic and treatment center in the country. Through its investment in advanced technologies and a network of hundreds of cancer experts and researchers, more patients are benefiting from life-saving cancer diagnosis, treatment and access to clinical trials.

For more information about The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, call TriStar MedLine at 615-342-1919 or 800-242-5662.

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