Southeast Hospital to invest $3 million in cancer therapy

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

New radiation treatment

Business Today

New treatments for prostate cancer and malignant tumors will "bring cancer care to a new level," at Southeast Missouri Hospital, administrator Jim Wente said April 18 at the annual meeting of the hospital association.

Wente, speaking to the 800 or so members and guests who attended the dinner meeting at the Show Me Center, announced that the hospital had filed an application with the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee for a linear accelerator, which would cost about $3 million and be operational by the end of the year. The hospital must prove its need for the apparatus to the review committee before the state approves its purchase.

The accelerator will feature intensity modulated therapy, which is a new form of radiation therapy that uses computer-generated images to plan and deliver more tightly focused radiation beams to cancerous tumors than is possible with conventional radiation therapy.

The treatment increases accuracy and lessens the amount of exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. Using a computerized tool, the radiation beam is virtually painted on the contours of the irregularly shaped tumor.

Dr. Joseph Miller, radiation oncology director at the hospital's Regional Cancer Center, said the method is the most precise form of radiation therapy available. He said it can be used to treat tumors that might have been considered untreatable in the past due to close proximity of vital organs.

Wente also announced that prostate brachytherapy will be available at the Regional Cancer Center this summer. This new treatment option will provide an alternative other than external beam radiation or surgery.

Also known as prostate seed implant therapy, this approach to prostate cancer treatment has become one of the most popular in the United States for early-stage prostate cancer. The therapy has a very high success rate with very low chances of side effects, said Dr. John Hall, a urologist who performs the procedure.

The therapy includes placing tiny, radioactive "seeds," which are about the size of a grain of rice, into the prostate. This delivers all doses of radiation to the prostate itself, which minimizes exposure to the bladder, rectum and intestine.

Wente also said that by mid-May, the $4.3 million D.B. Elrod OB/GYN Center redesign will be fully completed. The center will have 19 private birthing suites, a new nursery area, including a special care nursery, new reception and waiting areas and more. Last year, nearly 1,600 babies were born at Southeast.

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