Hospital’s upgraded cancer center meeting important need

There are many types of cancer for which a cure is still elusive, but the good news is that awareness continues to grow. For example, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, during which you will see many people wearing pink — the color adopted to bring attention to the disease.

Fortunately for local residents who face breast and other forms of cancer, many services are available nearby that give people a fighting chance to beat these diseases. Notable among them is the $8.7 million expansion of the Columbus Regional Hospital Cancer Treatment Center.

A public open house in late March gave the public a chance to see the improvements and understand its greater capabilities — which have been put to good use over the past seven months.

The expansion, which added 6,600 square feet to the original 15,500 square-foot center, included an investment of about $4 million in new radiation treatment and software. Some upgrades included:

•12 self-contained treatment bays, representing an increase of four

•The waiting and family common areas

•A larger pharmacy oncology area with a greater number and diversity of medications available

•A Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator, which delivers X-rays in a higher dosage and more accurate manner for killing cancer cells

•Better integration of the hospital’s electronic medical records system

Since the cancer center opened, several new radiation treatments also have been introduced.

•Stereotactic body radiosurgery: It uses an advanced mapping system to precisely locate a tumor and deliver highly concentrated, highly focused radiation treatment.

•Prone breast board radiation: The positioning capability allows a patient’s breast tissue to fall away from the body, keeping radiation away from vital organs and focusing it solely on the tumor in the breast.

•High-dose rate brachytherapy: Radioactive seeds or sources are placed in or near the tumor itself, giving a high radiation dose to the tumor while reducing the radiation exposure in the surrounding healthy tissues.

A study commissioned by the hospital showed that it could see a 20 percent increase in the need for cancer services over the next decade, with growth in outpatient services. That’s a significant increase.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you are apt to hear stories about breast cancer survivors and the treatments they needed to defeat the disease.

They serve as encouragement that victory is possible with the help of doctors, medicine and procedures.

What’s also encouraging is that Columbus Regional Hospital has taken more steps to make those success stories possible, and without having to travel far for help.