DOTHAN, Al - When it comes to detecting and diagnosing cancer, technology is constantly improving. Many times a cancer diagnosis is confirmed through advanced imaging technology. These techniques are also used to help guide physicians in devising strategic plans to attack the cancer.
Radiation Therapist, Tiffany Norris says “with the new CBCT capability that's the computer tomography capability on our trilogy machine, we're able to actually tell the patient throughout the treatment if they're progressing. We've never had that capability before.”
Physicians and nurses can now import patient scans and access them through a centralized computer system at Southeast Alabama Medical Center. Also, if patients have had scans at other institutions out of town or even out of state, many times those scans can also be uploaded into the planning system by simply having a CD with the images available.
Barbara Jowers, a Certified Medical Dosimetrist at SAMC states “we've had MRI, we've had CT scans and we've had PET scans for a long time and in the past decade we've been able to incorporate a lot of those diagnostic scanning procedures in our treatment planning because that actually allows us to localize the targets.”
New advances in imaging and radiation therapy with machines such as the Linear Accelerator, allow physicians to attack tumors more precisely. Norris says, “we have better treatment outcomes because we're able to define the treatment volumes better and the reaction from the radiation is not as severe.”
Jowers admits that even though she works behind the scenes, one of the most rewarding parts of her job is seeing patients come back and noticing that they have benefited from the treatment given: She states “we've given them more time, we've given them a better quality of life and they're all so very appreciative of that and that makes me feel like I'm doing what I need to be doing.”