Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Statement from RC Cancer Centers Regarding News Story on Radiation Oncology

/PRNewswire/ -- The "Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm" article in The New York Times on January 24, 2010, mischaracterized radiation oncology by identifying isolated cases of medical errors. While these cases were rare and tragic, radiation therapy is a safe and effective cancer treatment. In addition, the physicians, staff and directors of RC Cancer Centers are deeply concerned that some patients may avoid life-saving treatments after reading the article.

RC Cancer Centers feels it is important for consumers and patients to know that three out of five patients survive cancer. This means that beating cancer with radiation therapy is substantially higher than the risk of being harmed by a mistake. Unfortunately, this article did not offer essential details of the advances in radiation treatments or discuss the safe alternative cancer treatments that radiation oncology provides to cancer patients.

RC Cancer Centers is committed to giving cancer patients access to the most advanced technology and quality systems available. Our physicians and clinical staff receive comprehensive training and complete certification programs to ensure the use of accurate dosage and delivery of radiation therapy at all of our cancer treatment centers. RC Cancer Centers adheres to stringent quality assurance regulations. In addition, we are unique in our commitment to having three quality safeguards in place - controls, physicians and technology.

Specifically, multi-leaf calibration testing is conducted twice a week and daily checks are conducted every morning on our linear accelerators to confirm beam energy, flatness and symmetry, as well as mechanical and optical calibrations. Monthly equipment calibration checks are conducted, peer reviewed and then approved. Board-certified medical physicists perform yearly linear accelerator calibration to ensure proper delivery doses of radiation. This calibration is then confirmed by the Radiological Physics Center based out of MD Anderson Cancer Center of Houston, Texas. In addition, the RC Cancer Centers' staffing model for radiation therapy includes having two registered radiation therapists working together to cross-verify patient treatment set-up and parameters.

Onsite RC Cancer Centers' radiation oncologists are involved in every patient's treatment. They review and approve patient treatment plans in addition to the medical physicists and dosimetrists departments before any patient is treated. We are committed to a quality improvement process that establishes best practices for care and safety to ensure the highest quality patient radiation therapy planning and delivery.

To continue our safeguards process, we use a number of external software technologies that create a patient treatment plan separate from our linear accelerator. The software applications
we use incorporate the patient plan, calculate the radiation that each patient should receive before the patient is treated and then compare it to the actual plan as prescribed by the physician- approved treatment plan. This quality initiative ensures accurate and safe patient planning and treatment delivery at all RC Cancer Centers locations.

The physicians, staff and directors of RC Cancer Centers feel it would be a tragedy if this article negatively impacted the decision-making process for cancer patients who need to pursue the appropriate life-saving treatments -- simply because a well-intentioned news report failed to share the full story.

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