imageThere are three essential components for the delivery of state-of-the-art radiation therapy: excellent staff, the highest quality imaging capability and the most advanced treatment delivery systems available. Each are of equivalent importance, upholding a tripod of excellent care and outcomes.

As patients with malignant tumors move from diagnosis to treatment to follow up, radiation oncology teams walk a tightrope to deliver the highest possible dose to destroy the lesion while sparing as many normal structures as they can. Precision is the key. Radiation therapy centers of excellence are defined by incorporating these essential elements to provide the highest quality of care.

The technologic advances in equipment on both the imaging and radiation treatment sides of the equation are nothing short of amazing. All of these centers feature the most innovative equipment in various stages of acquisition.

Their other commonality, to providing this high level of care, involves their dedicated and knowledgeable expert staff with strong administrative support of the mission.

“When you first see a patient, you need to make sure he or she is a candidate for radiation, to carefully evaluate them,” says Steven A. Leibel, M.D., chairman of radiation oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MKCC) in New York, N.Y. “To give state-of-the-art care, we have each become experts in a specific disease site. Once we decide that a person is a candidate for radiation, then we evaluate if the disease is localized or has spread. That means having high-quality imaging available.”

Naresh Gupta, M.D., professor of radiology and director of the PET center at West Virginia University School of Medicine (Morgantown, W.V.) agrees.

“In our center, we use a multidisciplinary approach,” says Gupta. “Medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists and radiologists all come together in one room. Common brainstorming sessions lead to treatment decisions about what is the best approach for each patient.” This system is well defined for treatment of patients with lung cancer, and is maintained less formally for treatment of other forms of the disease such as brain tumors and colon cancer.

Please refer to the October 2001 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis