Cutting-Edge Cancer Technology and Treatment
New advances continually evolve in the science, practice and delivery of medicine. At Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), each of our hospitals houses the latest cancer treatments and technologies -- all under one roof. Our doctors and practitioners offer the best of conventional cancer treatments first and foremost, supplemented by evidence-based complementary therapies. We aim to treat the whole person, not just the disease.
In this section of Hope Navigatorssm, we'll provide you with information on the latest advances in cancer treatment and technology which you can pass along to cancer patients and family members you work with to empower them in their decision-making about cancer treatment and what's available.
If you know of a particular cancer treatment and don't see it listed, or if you would like to learn more about the cancer treatment options we offer at CTCA, please use the Contact Us section to send us a note.
Discovery PET/CT 600
CTCA in Tulsa (Southwest Regional Medical Center) is the first hospital in the United States to install the DiscoveryTM PET/CT scanner by GE Healthcare. The revolutionary scanner is designed to help enable earlier detection and accurate monitoring of disease combined with the latest advancements in molecular imaging. Patients will benefit from advanced motion management technology that will enable CTCA doctors to precisely identify where lesions are located, rapidly create a therapy plan and monitor treatment response by interpreting images taken in a single exam, which generally takes less than half an hour.
"We are thrilled to be the first hospital in North America to have this new scanner in place," said CTCA radiologist Timothy McCay, DO. "The Discovery PET/CT 600 has the ability to resolve small lesions, giving us the confidence to identify metastatic disease earlier instead of having the patient wait several months for a follow-up appointment."
"The new scans show details of my body not seen in past scans, making it easier for my oncologist and me to discuss treatment options," said Kathy Kelly, a 53-year-old esophageal cancer patient from Tupelo, Mississippi. "With a clearer picture, I'm able to understand exactly what's going on in my body."
"The Discovery PET/CT 600 is a revolutionary tool for my practice, as it allows me to better monitor malignant lesions which are sub-centimeter in size," explained Simon Jaggernauth, DO, and Kelly's medical oncologist. "My patients love the fact that they can better visualize their entire disease volume and receive treatment earlier for disease that might otherwise get ignored utilizing a traditional PET scanner. This is a tool that benefits the entire industry and practice of medical oncology."
Rehab – Interactive Metronome
This innovation helps patients who are suffering cognitive decline, often called "chemo brain," as a side effect of chemotherapy. With the assistance of an occupational therapist, computer-generated sounds help patients restore some of the firing of neurons in their brain to gradually improve cognition. This helps with short-term memory loss and balance. Patients can once again remember their grandchildren’s names and make sense out of what their physician tells them.
Because it is filmless, digital mammography shortens the time needed for a mammogram from 30 minutes to 10 minutes, produces better images and reduces patients’ exposure to radiation.
Radiofrequency Ablation & Microwave Ablation
These image-guided techniques heat and destroy cancer cells with radio and microwaves, minimizing destruction of healthy cells. Radiofrequency ablation helps surgeons and radiologists “melt away” liver tumors, often eliminating the risk and discomfort of surgery. This is good news for many patients with liver cancer, because in 80 percent of cases, surgical tumor removal can negatively impact or destroy adequate liver function.
Used at only a handful of medical centers nationwide, radiofrequency ablation sends electrical energy to liver tumors through a special catheter. Once heated, the cancer cells usually die within 15 minutes. With this technique, localized cancer of the liver that has not responded to chemotherapy, cannot be removed safely, or where previous surgeries have been performed and cancer has recurred can now be treated. Radiofrequency ablation is used mostly for lung and liver cancers, and sometimes esophageal, kidney and bone.
In the state of Oklahoma, CTCA at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa has the first Barrx Halo Microwave Ablation in the state and is the only hospital that uses radiofrequency ablation on the lung.
Southwestern offers the only hyperthermia therapy in Oklahoma. It delivers therapeutic heat in conjunction with radiation or chemotherapy to destroy tumors. This non-invasive ultrasound option allows for external treatment of unreachable tumors.
Olympus Capsule Endoscopy
Minimally invasive, this tool helps identify cancerous tumors and treat small bowel abnormalities without the risks and recovery time of open surgery.
This procedure improves quality of life for lung cancer patients by dramatically improving breathing. This clinical trial, injecting cisplatin directly into the endobronchial tumor which makes the tumor more sensitive to follow-up HDR brachytherapy, is only offered at Southwestern.
This new tool is used to pre-plan the path of a bronchoscope. If a patient experiences a failed bronchoscopy, navigational bronchoscopy images the entire periphery of the lungs to target distant lung tumors. Again, Southwestern is the only hospital in Oklahoma to offer this procedure.
ERBEJET Hepatobiliary Surgery
The only hospital in the United States to make available this treatment, Southwestern offers this advanced treatment for patients with liver metastases. The ERBEJET selectively dissects water-soluble tissue, like the liver.
This is a minimally invasive interventional spinal surgery procedure that immediately stabilizes spine and reduces pain. It's ideal for patients with metastasis to bone.
With this procedure, internal radiation beads are sent through a catheter into the blood and directly into a liver tumor.
This circulating tumor cell test is the first of its kind to quickly and automatically capture, identify and count the cells that detach from a tumor and circulate in the bloodstream. Approved by the FDA, the test is a tool for detecting circulating metastatic tumor cells from breast, colorectal and prostate cancers. Measuring the number of circulating tumor cells in a patient’s blood before treatment to establish a baseline, and at regular intervals thereafter, can help doctors monitor the patient’s progress and tailor treatments. It's available at CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, Illinois.
Calypso® 4D Localization System™
CTCA at Midwestern was the first in the Midwest to offer the Calypso® 4D Localization System™, known as “GPS for the Body®, a significant advancement in prostate cancer care. FDA-approved for prostate cancer, Calypso® actively monitors the prostate to ensure external beam radiation directly targets cancer cells and protects healthy organs and tissue. Early qualitative feedback indicates patients are experiencing great success and minimal side effects. This technology also shows great promise for other cancer types.
Varian© Trilogy Linear Accelerator System
The Varian© Trilogy Linear Accelerator System is a first in a new generation of radiation treatment platforms able to perform many treatment types on a single platform and reduce treatment times for patients. The precision of Trilogy allows radiation oncologists to spare healthy tissue with sophisticated technology that times the delivery of radiation with a patient’s breathing cycle. Trilogy provides similar treatment comparative to gamma knife procedures. Patients with head and neck, lung, gastrointestinal, gynecologic and pancreatic cancer benefit from Trilogy.
Interventional Angiography (IR)
The Siemens Angio-CT system is a combination of a special procedures unit and a CT scanner. The IR suite was exclusively designed by Siemens at the request of CTCA at Midwestern to perform a full spectrum of real-time CT and angiography exams and treatment for patients. The state-of-the-art angio-ct system allows CTCA to perform percutaneous biopsy of bone lesions, drainage of abscesses and several different types of angiograms. What distinguishes this equipment from others is the high-tech CT Fluoro feature in combination with the special procedures imaging capabilities, giving the radiologist several tools to use real-time diagnostics and special procedure treatments to provide the best, most advanced care with precision and accuracy.
Innovation in Pancreatic Cancer Treatment
CTCA at Midwestern is experiencing promising results for people living with pancreatic cancer. Offering advanced diagnostic, surgical, imaging, radiation and medical oncology capabilities, treatment is customized to meet each patient’s individual needs and aimed at improving the quality and length of life. Advanced diagnostics and imaging procedures are generally completed within a three-to five-day evaluation, during which time the patient’s care team will learn everything they can about that individual’s pancreatic cancer and evaluate the current state of disease, including staging. CTCA is committed to prompt turnaround times, allowing clinicians to be more responsive to pancreatic cancer patients in an effort to ease anxiety and begin treatments more quickly.
Some pancreatic cancer patients may qualify for surgery. The surgical team at CTCA at Midwestern may approach pancreatic malignancy cases that many institutions will not consider due to procedure risks. Highly-skilled and well-trained surgeons carefully approach those risks and apply their considerable experience in every procedure, including extensive experience performing the Whipple procedure and surgeries aimed to enhance quality of life. This surgical team has the expertise and advanced capability to surgically manage extremely advanced tumors which have impacted the pancreas and other abdominal organs.
The pancreatic cancer team will also harness a variety of chemotherapy drugs in an effort to stop cancer cell growth, either by halting cell division or by killing the cells. For these patients that have already received a chemotherapy regimen, the care team will often perform a biopsy to get enough tissue to be sent out for chemo-resistance testing. This testing will help evaluate which chemotherapy drugs will not be effective, in turn helping to determine the chemotherapy drug that may be most effective. CTCA also often uses metronomic-dose chemotherapy, which breaks the total dose of chemotherapy into smaller amounts and is administered over a period of three to five days, rather than a single larger dose. For some patients, metronomic-dose chemotherapy may increase the tolerability of the chemotherapy by reducing some of the unpleasant side effects. The liver is a common metastatic site for pancreatic cancer and other cancer types. In this case, patients may receive intra-arterial chemotherapy as part of their individualized care plan. This type of chemo is delivered directly into the hepatic artery in the liver.
Pancreatic cancer patients may also receive radiation therapy, depending on how much radiation previously received (if any) and the type and stage of the cancer. The physicist will take those factors, along with imaging CT-scans, and work closely with a CTCA radiation oncologist to develop and individualize a treatment plan. The ultimate goal is always to deliver the most radiation to the tumor while causing the least damage to the surrounding tissues. Common types of radiation that pancreatic patients may receive include 3-D Conformal Radiation Therapy, an external form of radiation therapy which allows the radiation oncologist to conform the radiation beam(s) to specific target areas, such as the pelvis; Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), which may allow the radiation oncologist to use higher radiation doses than traditional methods while sparing more of the surrounding healthy tissue in comparison with standard radiation therapy; and TomoTherapy® Highly Integrated Adaptive Radiotherapy (HI-ART), which combines an advanced form of IMRT, the accuracy of CT-scanning technology and advanced tools for planning and delivering radiation therapy in one machine.
The pancreatic cancer program at CTCA integrates these latest medical treatment options with a full array of complementary therapies, including nutrition, naturopathic medicine, emotional support, spiritual support and physical therapy, to help mitigate side effects and improve patient quality of life. Because weight loss is such a common side effect of pancreatic cancer (due to the blood sugar control function of the pancreas), the nutritionist, naturopath and metabolic support team work together to carefully guide pancreatic cancer patients through a customized nutritional and supplement plan to enhance patients’ strength and maintain a healthy weight. The pain management team is also a crucial part of the care team, taking an aggressive and proactive approach to help each pancreatic cancer patient manage their pain, abiding by the CTCA philosophy that a patient’s pain is what they say it is. The mind-body medicine and pastoral care teams provide emotional and spiritual support to patients and caregivers, both while at the hospital and during their time at home between and/or following treatment.
Placing fiducial markers positions the patient accurately within the radiation field by superimposing the planning CT on a real-time image generated by the system. With confirmation of accuracy, higher doses of radiation can be delivered, margins of delivery can be much tighter around the tumor and surrounding healthy tissue receives less injury. Fiducial markers are helping in the treatment of lung cancer and pancreatic cancer patients with procedures such as stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and endoscopic ultrasound (EUS).
Spiration Endobronchial Valve
This one-way valve is an innovative new technology that helps patients who have persistent air leaks in their lungs. The device is deployed through a bronchoscope from the inside of a patient's lungs. The concept is that blocking air from entering this diseased section of the lung with the air leak decreases pressure on the leak and will allow it to heal without a more invasive procedure. It blocks new air from flowing into the damaged lung but still allows air and mucous to escape. The belief is that in several weeks the tissue will heal itself, and the device can be removed. Southwestern is one of only a select few facilities in the country approved to use this new device.
CTCA at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa offers deep-tissue hyperthermia, an innovative therapy that uses heat combined with radiation therapy to treat certain cancerous tumors deep in the pelvic region of the body. This therapy is currently being offered as part of a national investigational research study, using a technology called the BSD-2000 Hyperthermia System.*
The study explores the safety and effectiveness of deep-tissue hyperthermia, including the effect on tumor shrinkage or disappearance, relief of symptoms, and improved quality of life. Deep-tissue hyperthermia is currently offered in conjunction with radiation therapy for eligible patients with locally advanced, persistent or recurrent deep tumors of the pelvis, including the cervix, prostate, rectum and bladder.
If you would like to speak with a Cancer Treatment Centers of America Oncology Information Specialist to discuss medical treatment options, please call 1-800-223-7940.