2007-05-11 / Community

Peninsula Hospital Center Gets Nod For Major Cancer Care Upgrade

Termed 'Giant Step Toward State-Of-The-Art Center'

Peninsula Hospital Center, an affiliate of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, recently received Certificate of Need approval from the New York State Department of Health to replace its present linear accelerator and simulator that are used in cancer radiation therapy.

According to Dr. David Schwartz, Director of Radiation Oncology, the approval for and forthcoming delivery of the new radiation therapy units will place Peninsula Hospital Center right on par with major comprehensive cancer care treatment facilities in the metropolitan area.

A PHC spokesperson told The Wave that the new accelerator will allow for intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), an advanced mode of computer driven high-precision radiotherapy that allows for delivery of precise radiation doses to a malignant tumor and draining tissues. According to Dr. David Schwartz, "The IMRT allows for a precise delivery of radiation doses to the tumor while minimizing the doses to the normal tissues." With the IMRT approach, higher and more effective radiation doses can safely be delivered to tumors with fewer side effects compared to conventional radiotherapy techniques. IMRT is used to treat cancers of the prostate, head and neck, breast and lung, as well as in gynecologic tumors, brain tumors, lymphomas, sarcomas and others. Radiation oncologists usually administer a regimen of IMRT treatments over five to nine weeks. The total dose of radiation and number of treatments given depend on the size, location and type of cancer. Often Radiation is delivered with concomitant chemotherapy, depending on the nature of the disease.

The new linear accelerator also provides Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT). One particular challenge that radiation oncologists face is that a patient's tumor position can move to some degree on a day to day basis. According to Dr. Schwartz, IGRT allows for tumor imaging on a daily basis, and adjustment of treatment to account for tumor movement. This added accuracy allows radiation to be delivered to a tumor based on its location in the body on the day of treatment. This new therapy allows the radiation oncologist to safely increase the radiation dose to tumors while minimizing side effects.

Although the Cancer Care treatment team continues to administer radiation therapy to its ambulatory patients, the addition of IMRT and IGRT at Peninsula Hospital Center will have an unparalleled effect on the cancer patient population of Rockaway and its surrounding communities. Local residents requiring daily radiation treatments will have no reason to travel to cancer treatment centers in Manhattan or Long Island to receive the latest state-of-the-art therapy available since modern, up-to-date high tech therapy will be offered at Peninsula Hospital Center.

At the helm of the cancer care team at the Hospital Center are Dr. David Schwartz and Dr. Joshua Halpern, Board Certified Radiation Oncologists who work with patients' urologists, surgeons, medical oncologists and dermatologists - including physicians not affiliated with Peninsula Hospital Center. According to Dr. Schwartz, his team works very closely with doctors from all over New York City and Nassau County.

The New York City Department of Health and Hygiene places the rates of breast, lung and colorectal cancer in the immediate community served by Peninsula Hospital Center as higher than the rest of New York City. Additionally, cancer remains one of the leading health care challenges in the Rockaways. With the addition of the new linear accelerator with IMRT and IGRT capabilities, Peninsula Hospital Center moves one giant step closer to claiming the true moniker of a Comprehensive Cancer Care Center that the Rockaway community can call its own.

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