Dad has very much appreciated the care package of snack foods and reading material that Uncle George and Aunt Twylah sent. Included was a recent issue of the magazine Cure—Cancer Updates, Research & Education that was especially interesting. Dad learned about the cutting-edge radiation treatment administered with three-dimensional conformed radiation therapy (3-D CRT) and its sophisticated counterpart, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
Dad was intrigued with the story of Alvaro Martinez, MD, a radiation oncologist, who happened to wander into a wrong conference room while attending a medical conference in Dearborn, MI, five years ago. What he observed was a group of Ford Motor Company engineers discussing how to detect defects in engine blocks with CT (computed tomography). Dr. Martinez had a “brainstorm,” and his idea to incorporate a powerful CT scan with robotic technology has enabled radiation oncologists to treat tumors with absolute precision. The story also refers to James Cox, MD, head of the radiation oncology division at MD Anderson, who says that the new 3-D technology is giving positive results, especially in lung cancer.
“Absolutely,” said Ryan, Dad’s radiation technologist, when I inquired for Dad whether he was the recipient of these innovative technologies described in the magazine. He added that in addition to the three-dimensional scan, Dad’s treatment plan also includes an incredibly high-tech, four-dimensional scan that adjusts for the rising of his chest as he breathes during treatment.
When Dad returned to the waiting room from his treatment, he said that Ryan had told him that a total of 40 radiation beams are directed at his tumor. “It really thrills me,” Dad said, “that the machine being used for my treatment is the most recent piece of equipment that MD Anderson has purchased—it’s just months old.”