Medical Minute 3-21: Fighting Cancer Faster and Easier

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

Family is everything to George Sicklick.

"I'm very pleased with all the kids…all of my children and grandchildren. It's wonderful to have them," he said.

But he's lost a lot of family over the years. George's mother, father, aunt and uncle all died of cancer. His daughter and cousins are cancer survivors, and most recently, George got the diagnosis himself.

"I was really happy that they found it because with my family, some of them, they find out they have cancer, and you know, my father, two months, and he's gone," said George Sicklick.

It was only fitting that this family man's son - a cancer surgeon - helped diagnose him.

"He arranged for his colleagues to see me, and they did a scan."

The scan showed it was Hodgkin's Lymphoma. George needed surgery, chemo and radiation. He was one of the first patients to try a new machine.

True beam delivers radiation faster than standard machines - up to double the dose rate. A standard 15 minute session can be done in less than five minutes. A 60-minute radiosurgery can be reduced to half the time.

"If we can shorten the duration of treatment, motion during the treatment itself becomes less of a significant factor," said Loren K. Mell, M.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology.

When patients shift or breathe during treatment, the tumor also moves. George's tumor was near other organs that doctors wanted to avoid. This machine performs accuracy checks every 10 milliseconds, targeting the tumor and avoiding other areas.

"We can significantly reduce the amount of radiation to nearby normal tissues and that can reduce side effects."

George didn't have any side effects.

"I had no reaction. I was not sick."

Now, he's cancer free and thankful he has more time to appreciate the beauty around him.

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