Dr. Jekwon Yeh

Dr. Jekwon Yeh 

For years, patients with inoperable tumors in the body had limited treatment options.

Patients with brain tumors or tumors near critical organs were often subjected to damage to surrounding organs with surgery. However, over the past decade, advances in radiation therapy have made it possible to destroy tumors without the need for an invasive operation. This revolutionary treatment is called stereotactic radiosurgery or stereotactic ablative radiotherapy.

SRS/SABR is a noninvasive treatment that uses high doses of focused radiation to treat benign and malignant tumors. Since the treatment uses highly precise beams, it can treat tumors while avoiding the surrounding healthy organs. When utilized properly, the clinical outcomes of SRS/SABR treatments are equivalent if not better than traditional surgery.

Treatment starts by forming a 3-dimensional map of the patient’s body with a CT scan. The radiosurgery team then outlines the areas that require treatment on the 3-D map. Using sophisticated physics planning, radiation beams are arranged at different angles to target the tumor.

“We commonly use this technique for tumors in the brain and lung, however, this treatment can target virtually any tumor in the body with extreme accuracy and precision,” said Dr. Jekwon Yeh, director of radiation oncology at the Rio Bravo Cancer Center.

Radiosurgery treatments are usually performed in one to five treatments. With Rio Bravo Cancer Center’s Elekta Versa HD, radiosurgery treatments are usually less than 15 minutes as compared to traditional techniques such as the Cyberknife or Gamma Knife, which can take over an hour. The additional treatment time can cause an increase in anxiety and discomfort for the patient.

Along with precise radiation planning, the delivery of the treatment must be just as exact. Rio Bravo Cancer Center utilizes 4D-CT targeting, which essentially monitors the movement of tumors in real-time like a GPS system and allows for more precise treatment delivery.

For example, lung tumors move while we breath, however, with the 4D-CT targeting technology, the lung tumors position can be accurately monitored for treatment. Rio Bravo Cancer Center is the only facility in Kern County that offers this type of precise real-time tumor targeting technology.

Yeh said: “We performed our first radiosurgery procedure at Rio Bravo Cancer Center several months ago. The patient had an inoperable tumor of the pituitary gland. Further surgery would have caused damage to the nerves that control vision, bleeding, infection and possible brain damage. However, with our SRS technology, we were able to halt the growth of the tumor with only a few radiation treatments. The patient is now doing well with no growth of the tumor and essentially no side effects.”

The radiosurgery team at Rio Bravo Cancer Center has essentially created a virtual operating room that removes the need for invasive surgery. Patients usually have minimal symptoms and are living their regular lives without any extensive recovery time. Rio Bravo Cancer Center has invested over $6 million into obtaining this cutting-edge radiation technology.

“We are committed to saving lives by bringing the world’s most advanced cancer treatment technology closer to home,” Yeh said.

Selene Witcher is a business development manager with Rio Bravo Cancer Center.

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