Chances are that if you’re on this blog, you know something about Fox Chase’s Women’s Cancer Center. Maybe you’re familiar with our expertise in breast and gynecologic cancer care, or you’ve visited our new offices in the Robert C. Young, M.D. pavilion.
For an in-depth look at our amazing facility—including details on the services we provide, from prevention to treatment to survivorship—I encourage you to check out our new webisode.
During this six-minute virtual tour, you’ll hear from me and a variety of different staff from around the Center as we explain exactly why the Women’s Cancer Center is the only one of its kind in the region.
See if you recognize a familiar face, or learn something new – and let us know what you think! We want to hear from you.
Did you know that Fox Chase Cancer Center recently opened a state-of-the-art radiation therapy facility in Buckingham, PA? Patients can take advantage of the latest advances in radiation therapy provided by some of the nation’s most experienced doctors.
Radiation oncologist, Shelly Hayes, MD, oversees all treatment at this facility. (Watch her video here). She is here to tell you more about the facility – and to introduce you to one of her breast cancer patients.
I am pleased to tell you about our new facility, approximately 19 miles from the Center’s main campus, that offers Bucks County residents more convenient access to Fox Chase’s nationally recognized cancer treatment regimens, along with access to innovative care, clinical trials and all the resources of an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center.
In addition to state-of-the-art technology, patients at the Buckingham facility have access to a team of Fox Chase specialists who will carefully plan and carry out each patient’s course of radiation treatment. The team includes physicians specializing in radiation therapy (radiation oncologists), radiation therapists, medical dosimetrists, medical radiation physicists, oncology nurses, and a wide array of support staff.
One of our Bucks County neighbors and a breast cancer patient, Ellen Anthonisen, recently shared her experience on Fox Chase’s YouTube channel, which I’ve included for you below.
“I would be foolish not to go to Fox Chase,” Ellen Anthonisen, breast cancer patient
In this video, Ellen talks about her experience at Fox Chase’s Buckingham facility, where she went for her radiation treatment. She described the staff as having “the perfect combination of warmth, compassion and expertise.” Going to Buckingham, near her home, allowed Ellen to stay in control of her life during radiation treatment.
Learn more about Fox Chase Cancer Center at Buckingham by watching this short television commercial, or call 215-794-2700 to schedule an appointment.
This past week, The New York Times ran several articles questioning the safety of radiation therapy. On Sunday, January, 24, 2010, a front page story entitled “The Radiation Boom- Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm” highlighted two medical errors done at two separate New York city hospitals which led to devastating complications from radiation therapy. On Wednesday, January 27, 2010, a second story entitled “As Technology Surges, Radiation Safeguards Lag” drew attention to additional complications to patients in other regions of the country when radiation therapy was improperly delivered. This story emphasized the lack of uniform regulation across the country and the lack of experience or safeguards at many of the sites where these complications occurred.
Because we know the benefits of radiation therapy and because Fox Chase has been a leader in developing safety measures over the years, I invited my colleague Eric M. Horwitz, MD, chairman of our Department of Radiation Oncology and President of The American Brachytherapy Society, to address the measures Fox Chase has in place to ensure the safe and effective delivery of radiation therapy. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your physician or Karen Sheehan, the Fox Chase Radiation Safety Officer, at 215-728-3021.
Radiation therapy, which damages the genetic material within cancer cells and limits their ability to reproduce, is safe and effective more than 99.99 percent of the time. At Fox Chase, our team of highly trained medical professionals, who are responsible for delivering radiation therapy, works hard to ensure our patients’ safety. This team includes the radiation oncologist, medical physicist, dosimetrist, radiation therapist, and radiation oncology nurse. There are rigid quality assurance regulations in place for hospitals and physicians at both the state and federal levels to which Fox Chase adheres fully. We have treated more than 4,600 patients with Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) over the past 10 years. We perform IMRT Quality Assurance (QA) on every patient, which is not required by the state or federal government.
The safety of our patients is of the utmost importance to the Department of Radiation Oncology. We recognize that modern radiation therapy is an extremely sophisticated process requiring multiple checks and balances to assure that the proper radiation is delivered as prescribed. Some of the processes we have in place to ensure our patients’ safety include:
Our medical physicists’ expertise includes teaching an annual symposium on IMRT and Monte Carlo calculations at Fox Chase that draws attendees from around the world. Several of our physicists are regularly invited to teach courses on IMRT and IGRT at the annual ASTRO and AAPM meetings. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection oversees the safe use of linear accelerators and has sent one of their inspectors to Fox Chase for training.
Fox Chase has a large active Radiation Safety Committee (RSC) which oversees both our linear accelerators and brachytherapy program. Both I and Robert Price, Ph.D., our Chief Clinical Physicist, are members of this committee. In addition to the RSC, our department has its own QA Committee which the radiation safety officer attends and which reports to both the RSC and the Performance Monitoring Committee. Fox Chase has a very proactive radiation safety officer, Karen Sheehan, with whom we work closely. The role of the radiation safety officer is to promote a culture of safety at the Center by assuring that the use of radiation-producing equipment and radioactive material complies with regulations established by State and Federal agencies. This is accomplished through audits, routine radiation surveys, equipment compliance checks, staff education, and providing information regarding radiation safety for patients and visitors.
It is my hope that dramatic coverage of rare incidents of negligence in the industry does not lead patients to fear radiation therapy, one of the three proven pillars of effective cancer treatment, along with surgery and chemotherapy.
The key for patients is to select an institution that has multiple layers of thoughtful checks and balances in place to assure that the proper radiation is delivered as prescribed and to prevent the occasional errors that are inherent in any human endeavor. We have those layers in place at Fox Chase.
Fox Chase offers a preparatory class for patients undergoing radiation therapy. For additional information, The American Society for Radiation Oncology has a useful website (www.rtanswers.org), as does The National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (www.nccn.org.)
Eric Horwitz, MD
Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology