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Innovation

Top innovations in 2013 benefit cancer patients

The vision at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, along with our academic partner, Washington University School of Medicine, is to be a national leader in medicine and the patient experience. Realizing this vision requires that we continue to innovate to improve our service and patient outcomes. Two groundbreaking procedures we introduced in 2013 will have far-reaching benefits for cancer patients.


This video highlights the opening of the S. Lee Kling Proton Therapy Center at the
Siteman Cancer Center.

 

Proton therapy

The S. Lee Kling Proton Therapy Center opened its doors at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center in December 2013. As the only proton therapy center in Missouri and the surrounding area, this unique treatment facility draws patients from across the region for the most precise and minimally invasive cancer care. Traditional non-surgical methods of cancer treatment involve sending beams of radiation all the way through the patient’s body to treat a tumor. Proton therapy offers a unique advantage in allowing radiation oncologists to control the depth of the radiation beam, permitting them to send the radiation as far into the body as the tumor, but no further.

For Steven Osborne, proton therapy meant he didn’t have to choose between a life without cancer and a life without vision. Osborne was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, called chondrosarcoma, which formed a tumor at the base of his skull. Traditional radiation therapies to remove the tumor could also have damaged his optic nerves, leading to blindness or other complications. But with the proton beam precisely programmed to only travel as far as the tumor, his brain and optic nerve were not exposed to potentially damaging radiation.

“Proton therapy is unique because it allows for very precise adjustments to the radiation beam, so we can precisely target tumors,” said Jeffrey Bradley, MD, director of the Proton Therapy Center. “It helps to minimize damage to surrounding tissue and is especially useful when treating growing children.”


Click image to enlarge

The S. Lee Kling Proton Therapy Center is among a handful of locations delivering proton therapy, but it stands alone as the first ever single-vault proton center. Other locations use proton generators that must be housed in buildings the size of football fields, and which can cost up to $150 million. At Barnes-Jewish, the proton generator fits in a fraction of that space, and comes at a fraction of the cost.

The S. Lee Kling Proton Therapy Center plans to treat 20 to 25 patients a day. Treatment will typically require daily 30-minute sessions for two months. The center will serve the region and the Midwest. The next closest location offering proton therapy is 225 miles away.

Learn more about proton therapy here.

Other medical innovations that occur every day at Barnes-Jewish Hospital include ventricular heart devices and transplants, unique brain tumor treatments, spinal reconstruction and breast cancer treatment.

MRI-guided radiation therapy

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) became part of surgical practice at Barnes-Jewish in 2008 with the introduction of the intraoperative MRI. In another worldwide first, radiation oncologists at Barnes-Jewish and Siteman Cancer Center are now using the same technology that guides the work of brain surgeons to guide doses of radiation precisely and accurately, with real-time visualization of the tumors they are treating.

 

Wayne Kestler, 80, of Sullivan, Mo., is one of the first patients to be treated using MRI-guided radiation therapy, which allows physicians to monitor tumor movement in real time during treatment.

Many cancers, especially those in the abdomen and pelvis, can be difficult to see using traditional imaging techniques. Radiation oncologists often had to create treatment plans based on static images before and after each treatment. The new technology, called ViewRay™, provides a continuous picture of the tissue being treated during radiation therapy, so doctors can tell right away what changes are occurring in the tumor and healthy tissue around the treatment area. “Now we know precisely when a tumor shifts,” said Dennis Hallahan, MD, chairman of radiation oncology and the Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. “This allows us to pause radiation with the goal of sparing healthy tissue, reducing side effects and improving a patient’s overall outcome. It’s one more advance in personalized cancer care.”

This system was developed at Washington University and evaluated by radiation oncologists here.  See more at: www.siteman.wustl.edu/ViewRay/

 

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From the day he joined the board of Jewish Hospital in 1981 to the end of his service as Chairman of The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital Board in 2008, S. Lee Kling strived to improve health care quality and innovation in St. Louis and beyond.

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