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Radiation machine at Valley clinic targets cancer like never before

By: Hatzel Vela, ABC15, June 2011

GILBERT, AZ - Gilbert resident John Millard, 74, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last November. "I almost passed out," Miller said from his home. "It just floored me." After nine weeks of radiation, doctors say things are looking positive for Millard.

"It's amazing," said Dr. Greg Maggass, a radiation oncologist, of the differences he is already seeing after using the TrueBeam Machine, which helps deliver highly focused cancer treatments.

Tumors are shrinking and patients are responding faster to the radiation because of the way the machine works.

When patients get the treatment, the machine shapes radiation beams that target the tumor with a higher dose of radiation, which shortens the length of treatment, said Maggass, who has been a radiation oncologist since 1987.

You kill the cancer while minimizing the dose of radiation to surrounding normal tissue, he added.

Arizona Radiation Oncology Specialists, where Maggass works, was the fourth in the nation to get the technology last Fall. They were the first in the Southwest, said Lisa Young, medical marketing coordinator.

"It's very well tolerated [by patients],"Maggass said. "People only have minimal side effects and have an excellent chance of being cured of this cancer." It used to be prostate cancer patients like Millard suffered from bladder and rectal infections after radiation.

Millard said he didnt have bad side effects. At times, he admits to feeling tired. "I feel great," said Millard. "I really do. I feel better than I have in a long time."

Not only is this a more effective technology, but Maggass said it also helps folks with their lifestyles. Patients can get their treatment in 15 to 20 minutes. "People can continue to work, continue to go on with their normal lives while being while being treated for these cancers now, he added. TrueBream is so smart, that when it treats lung tumors, it knows when we breathe so it only sends out a beam when the tumor is in sight. "It's a very rewarding feeling just to know that you're able to help these people... to offer a chance of curing these people where they didn't think that chance was there before," Maggass said.