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Technology

Advances in technology have created even more vital tools that Hendrick Cancer Center now uses in their fight against cancer.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy is useful for treating cancer because cancer cells grow and divide more rapidly than the surrounding cells and are therefore more sensitive to radiation. Hendrick Medical Center has provided radiation therapy services since the mid 1950s.

Varian Eclipse 3-D Computer Planning System

Hendrick Cancer Center utilizes the Varian Eclipse 3-D Computer Planning System during the treatment planning process to map out a patient’s treatment. This is done by uploading a series of CAT scan images onto the computer to create a 3-D image of the tumor. Various radiation beam approaches are discussed to determine the best angle to deliver the prescribed dose of radiation while ensuring that normal organs are not affected.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

This is the most precise external beam radiation therapy available. This advanced method delivers doses of radiation with different intensity levels. The advantage of using this method is the ability to optimize the radiation dose to the irregularly-shaped tumors while minimizing the radiation to surrounding areas.

Varian Linear Accelerator

Hendrick Cancer Center houses two Varian Linear Accelerators. The new technology blocks the radiation to healthy structures and has portal imaging, delivering split second digital images that ensure patient position and tumor localization. Each unit provides two x-ray energies for treating tumors within the body as well as five different electron energies for treating tumors on and slightly below the skin.

We utilize a General Electric CT unit to image the portion of the patient’s body where the treatments will be performed. The images from the CT unit are transferred by network to the Eclipse 3D treatment planning computer. Diagnostic images (Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Computed Tomography, Nuclear Medicine, Ultrasound, and/or Radiography) can then used with the CT images to plan the patient’s treatments in three dimensions to provide the most appropriate means of treating each patient’s tumor and minimizing side effects to the patient.

We provide 3D and as well as IMRT external beam treatments. Since we have two treatment units, we are able to accommodate patients’ personal schedules better than a site with only one unit.

We are the only facility in Abilene that provides low dose rate iodine seed implants for prostate patients and low dose rate cesium implants for female patients. We have board-certified radiation oncologists, a radiation oncology nurse, a radiation physicist, medical dosimetrists, therapists and secretary/receptionists to work with each patient during his/her treatments.

Brachytherapy

High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy that delivers high doses of radiation from implants placed close to, or inside, the tumor(s) in the breast.

Close collaboration between the surgeon and radiation oncologist is extremely important for good patient outcomes. The surgeon removes the breast tumor and inserts the balloon device to make it possible for the radiation oncologist to treat the area after surgery.

Tiny, hollow catheters are temporarily inserted directly into the area where the tumor was removed. Before each treatment, the position of the catheters is checked for precision. With computer guidance, a series of radioactive pellets are inserted into each catheter to precisely target the location, and how long the pellet stays in the catheter to release its radiation dose.