If you or someone you love is fighting cancer, chances are they may be getting radiation treatment. At least 50% of all cancer patients receive radiation.
New technology is helping doctors with dosing, and the only place you can get it is right here in Michiana.
The new technology is called DVS, which stands for Dose Verification System.
It's an implanted dosimeter that allows doctors to measure the exact amount of radiation a patient is getting.
Goshen Center for Cancer Care was the first in the state to use it.
“It works like the I-Zoom works, and that is if a magnetic field passes over a looped coil, like an antenna wire, it generates an electric current and that's what turns the devise on,” says Dr. James Wheeler from the Goshen Center for Cancer Care.
The latest tool in the fight against cancer is a dosimeter that tells doctors immediately how much radiation a person receives.
“If we see that the dose is wrong, then we can take steps to correct that,” says Dr. Wheeler.
This is an important advancement for patients like 52-year-old Sher Gunden king of Goshen, who had a lumpectomy in September after finding out she had breast cancer.
Every Monday through Friday for six weeks, Sher will get radiation.
She's the first breast cancer patient in the state to take advantage of DVS.
“I’m getting a true, accurate dose and that's comforting to me,” says Sher.
As Dr. Wheeler mentioned, it works much like an I-Zoom.
“It’s like a fancy transistor. It's a tiny little transistor that serves as a detector,” he says.
After her lumpectomy, this small device was implanted at Sher's cancer site under local anesthetic.
Now when she goes in for radiation, the beams are lined up with small dots - tattoos doctors give patients to find their targets.
DVS runs totally by a magnetic field that a wand placed over Sher's body generates.
The wand turns the circuitry on, radiation is delivered, measured and immediately sent to a computer.
“In the past, we just assumed that we were perfect, and since we never could see that there was a problem, we never had to make any corrections. If there was, the problem was that we would try to base everything off skin reaction and side effects after the patient had them,” says Dr. Wheeler. “Patients are alive. They breathe. The breast moves up and down with respiration. The contours change as a person breathes.”
While doctors already have sophisticated technology that tells them the exact location of the tumor, DVS allows them to measure the radiation directly at the sight of the cancer.
“We didn't cure as many people with those low doses, but the potential for causing harm wasn't as great either. Now that the doses are going ten to fifteen percent higher than we were before, you really want to make certain that the dose is being correctly given so that you don't harm someone,” says Dr. Wheeler.
DVS allows the higher doses with more accuracy.
“If I can be certain that I’m giving them the correct amount of radiation, then I can take the dose up as high as I need to take it. That can translate into saving a life,” says Dr. Wheeler.
May 1st is the second annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. WNDU is proud to be your media sponsor for this event. There will be more details to follow, but set aside May 1st and get your walking or running shoes ready. To register for the race click here.
The Goshen Center for Cancer Care has also used DVS to treat prostate cancer and is the only center in Indiana using this technology.
It may soon be FDA approved to treat other cancers as well.