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New Treatment Option Available to Some Cancer Patients in Joplin - KOAM TV 7

New Treatment Option Available to Some Cancer Patients in Joplin

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HDR brachytherapy HDR brachytherapy
HDR brachytherapy HDR brachytherapy
Traditional radiation Traditional radiation
Joplin, MO -

Some cancer patients may have a new option available to them.  Freeman Hospital now has HDR brachytherapy, or high dose rate brachytherapy.  Freeman is the first and only hospital in the area right now to offer this therapy.

This is technology you hope you'll never have to experience.  But it's important technology.

"Cancer free, living their life as close to normal as they were before they got the diagnosis," says Dr. Chance Matthiesen with Freeman Health System radiation oncology.  "That's what our technology is striving for us to achieve."

All the moving parts of a traditional radiation machine may appear "neat."  But what the machine causes can be painful for a cancer patient.

"You're generating radiation," says Dr. Matthiesen.  "The, you're pointing it into the body.  So you're having to go through normal tissues to get the radiation where you want it."

A different type of radiation therapy, HDR brachytherapy, may look simpler.  But doctors say this process can pack a better punch for some cancer patients.  A radiation source is delivered through a catheter right to the cancer site.

"The traditional way they were treated, they had to come in five days a week, one time a day.  With HDR we can minimize that treatment time down to one week, where they come in each day for a couple of sessions," says Dr. Matthiesen.

Freeman doctors say more cancer treatment resources in Joplin means more cancer patients feeling comfortable with friends.

"Their support structure and the people they count on are here, at their homes," says Ben Blair, Director of Freeman's Radiation Oncology.  "So to send them somewhere, even for a week, is really hard on someone."

...Cancer is still hard.  Treatment still includes side effects.

Patient support is still advancing.

"This, right now, has at the forefront of technology of every center in America.  So that's going to give us options for clinical trials, and further exploration of the science of radiation therapy," says Dr. Matthiesen.

Some cancer patients may still have better success with traditional radiation therapy.  Some hospitals in the area offer low dose brachytherapy; which of course includes lower doses of radiation, but also includes permanently implanting a radioactive source in a patient.

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