Cancer treatments may be effective and save lives, but the side effects can sometimes be as bad as the sickness itself. But that could be changing thanks to a groundbreaking type of radiation therapy that’s being used right here in New Mexico. Reporter David Romero has the story.
It’s called dynamic jaws and like its name, doctors say it’s a vibrant new way in how cancer is treated in patients. Dr. Lisa Berle, Lovelace Radiation Oncology: “We’re able to treat patients so much more effectively, more precisely, get a higher dose to the tumor and just spare those healthy tissues which is extremely important.” Lovelace acquired the machines within the last year. They include a machine which can image tumors and give doctors a better idea of where they are and how to treat them. They also have two new accelerators which are geared to treating the tumors and surface cancers. Doctors say so far it’s been a success with patients. Dr. Lisa Berle, Lovelace Radiation Oncology: “It's so exciting to see patients, especially head and neck patients that no longer suffer the detrimental side effects of the radiation that in the past was just a given, now we're able to really give people the quality of life that they've been treated for their cancer and they're not suffering the consequences of their treatment itself.”
With reducing a lot of side effects that cancer treatments face, the new dynamic jaws is also speeding up treatments and saving more healthy tissue in the process. Jill Baron, patient: “So I've had very little lasting effects, which is the most amazing thing about this treatment, and I think it's important that people know that this treatment's out there and it's very effective and it can be a very positive experience actually.” That’s been welcome news for someone like Jill Baron who underwent treatments with the machine last year. Jill Baron: “It's really just a day at a time and it's brief and it's painless and I think it's a lot better than what most people would expect.”
The machine specializes in treating patients with breast, prostate, lung, and head and neck cancers, giving them a more concentrated higher dose. “Dr. Berle: “All our patients that are treated on the TomoHD have benefited from this treatment because it allows me to pinpoint the radiation treatment field and spare the healthy tissues so the side effects are decreased dramatically.” It’s been a year since Jill Baron has been treated, she tells us, she’s feeling well and not suffering from any side effects.