Cancer Treatment: The Footprint of Therapy

Dr Kevin McMullen and team at Columbus Regional Health's Cancer Center

Cancer Center oncologist Kevin McMullen, MD, discusses the advanced cancer treatment options available at Columbus Regional Health and the importance these tools play in survivorship. "From the time the patient first walks in the door, we need to be thinking about that patient as a cancer survivor," he said, "and we need to be thinking about the footprint of the therapy we leave behind." 


"When a cancer patient has a cancer diagnosis, one of their biggest struggles is their life just isn't the same when it's all over. In the past, when we thought about patients being survivors, we always thought about it just on the back end. We always thought about, well, you know, let's see if we can fix what we've done. Well, we need to be thinking about — from the time the patient first walks in the door — we need to be thinking about about that patient as a cancer survivor. And we need to be thinking about the footprint of the therapy we leave behind.

One of the things we know about radiation in particular, which is my discipline, is radiation dose to normal surrounding tissues can create long-term problems, so we want to limit the dose to normal tissues as best we can. Historically, there have been standard areas and regions that would be treated for a certain disease that really didn't take into account the other biological factors going on with that patient and also didn't necessarily take into account the individual biology and genetics of that patient's disease. 

The range of treatment options that we can offer at Columbus Regional is extraordinary. We have brought in newer techniques of delivering larger doses of radiation using stereotactic positioning, which is exquisitely precise. What that means is we're using image guidance on advanced equipment to be able to define the patient position in a very precise fashion prior to the delivery of every single treatment. 

I think people think that these types of techniques are only available at large academic health centers, but that's not true. But at Columbus Regional we're developing a culture to help patients understand that we have brought in all of the advanced techniques in terms of radiation that can treat anything that we could do at an advanced academic healthcare center — with the experience that my partner and I have had over many years to be able to deliver those in a way where it's not new to us. We've been doing it for many years and with great success."

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