We put together this issue of Medical Imaging with a special focus on radiation therapy, geared toward the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO of Fairfax, Va) in Denver this October 16?20, at which the magazine will be on display and distributed (Booth 1422). This topic is important to the imaging industry, and it holds a special place in the heart of our advertising director, Martin St. Denis?a two-time cancer survivor who underwent extensive radiation therapy.

Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1994, and he was treated at the Boca Raton Community Hospital (Boca Raton, Fla) by radiation oncologist Tim Williams, MD, who is an integral part of our cover story “Radiation Therapy’s Aim … Is True“. Martin received 50 doses of radiation therapy?a treatment that is rarely, if ever, practiced today. In 1998, the seminoma recurred, spreading to Martin’s lungs, and he underwent 8 months of chemotherapy at the City of Hope (Los Angeles).

Today, Martin is healthy, vibrant, active, and happy. He receives a chest and pelvic CT scan annually, and his physicans keep a close watch on the aortic scarring attributed to the extensive radiation therapy. Based on his experiences, Martin frequently says that his days now are “freebies,” and he appreciates life all the more. He also notes that the differences in radiation therapies from just 11 years ago are monumental.

And he’s right. Today’s radiation regimens are more advanced and more targeted than the “showers” Martin received. With such treatment methods as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), the patient experience and outcomes are much better. In fact, this month’s “News Watch” highlights the results from a recent study about quality of life for men during and after prostate cancer treatment, focusing specifically on sexual and urinary function. The results are very hopeful.

The Real Purpose

In this month’s installment of “Informatics Report“, columnist Michael Mack shares a heartfelt story of losing his father-in-law, a painful way to remember that the patient is always the most important aspect of healthcare?something we, unfortunately, tend to forget. Don’t miss it!

Also, the “News Watch” section of this issue features many promising new technologies in the field of radiation therapy and cancer treatment. One company is awaiting a patent for a device that would enable the use of simultaneous brachytherapy and microwave hyperthermia therapy, a process that would enable patients to get more out of their radiation treatments without increased side effects?see our news item on this radiation treatment-optimizing device. Another company has developed an IGRT system that overcomes lung-cancer treatment limitations caused by breathing-induced tumor motion. And still another company has released a brachytherapy-planning tool that streamlines prostate cancer treatments to improve patient comfort.

With these new technologies and a steadfast focus on research, the patient experience will continue to improve?as will treatment methods and mortality rates. And really, that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Andi Lucas