Radiation therapy with a personal touch

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St. Luke’s Nassif Radiation Center makes life easier for cancer patients

The first day of radiation therapy can be intimidating—even frightening—for patients. So Mallory Delagardelle, radiation therapist at the Albert G. & Helen Radiation Center, says her first priority is to reassure them.

“A lot of patients are nervous because they don’t know what to expect. So before I begin treatment, I explain everything I’m going to do. I also let them what side effects might occur and when, and talk about their concerns. Once we get that out of the way, we can talk about other things during their treatment and they can relax.”

Radiation therapy is used to fight many types of cancer. St. Luke’s Nassif Radiation Center offers external beam radiation therapy, brachytherapy (radioactive seeds placed near the tumor) and Electron-based intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IOeRT), which combines surgery with an initial, concentrated dose of radiation.
St. Luke’s Nassif Radiation Center is home to the TrueBeam™ Linear Accelerator—the most advanced system used to treat cancers anywhere in the body with pinpoint accuracy. Explains Delagardelle, “We can be precise down to a millimeter. The radiation goes to the tumor while minimizing exposure to healthy tissue. And the imaging quality is excellent.”

While treatment varies depending on the cancer, most patients receive radiation therapy every day, Monday through Friday, for up to 44 days. Some patients also begin chemotherapy the same day as their first radiation treatment. Delagardelle says the St. Luke’s Nassif Radiation Center makes that easier.

“Everything our patients need is right here. Chemo is just across the hall as well as the support personnel, from dietitians to social workers, who care for patients throughout their treatment. We see you every day and we all get to know you. That’s nice for our patients and for us.”

Patients also appreciate the coordination between radiation therapy, medical oncology and support services. Care coordinators work closely with treatment teams to reduce the number of visits they have to make for their treatments, so patients move smoothly from one appointment to the next.

And when an individual’s treatment is complete, Delagardelle says it’s something they all celebrate. “It’s such a big day! You’ve been getting treatment every day for weeks. Now you don’t have to do it any more and you’re getting well.” She adds, “Our goal is to get the patient back to a healthy life and doing the things they love.”

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