Colquitt Regional Now Offering Radiation Oncology
It’s estimated that around 60% of cancer patients will undergo radiation therapy, an effective and often essential treatment for many types of cancer. But for patients living in rural areas, convenient access to a cancer center with on-site radiation oncology isn’t always an option. And with the typical radiation treatment plan requiring visits five days a week for several weeks, an inability to travel or lack of transportation often presents a barrier for patients to receive the care they need.
Fortunately, one South Georgia hospital is looking to change that.
Last year, Colquitt Regional Medical unveiled plans to add radiation oncology to its list of services available for cancer patients. This March, the hospital wrapped up construction on a $7.7 million expansion that will allow the Edwards Cancer Center at Colquitt Regional to take a more comprehensive approach to cancer treatment. And this spring, the Moultrie hospital will treat its first patients using advanced radiation oncology technology.
“For patients who need radiation treatment, traveling an additional 20 or 30 miles five times a week can be very difficult,” said radiation oncologist Dr. Steven Johnson. “By offering radiation oncology services in Moultrie, it’s no longer prohibitive for folks to have access to high-quality cancer care in South Georgia.”
Along with Dr. Johnson, Dr. David Saunders has joined the medical staff at Colquitt Regional. Both physicians will provide radiation oncology services at the Edwards Center in Moultrie, in addition to the services they currently provide at Archbold Medical Center’s Lewis Hall Singletary Oncology Center in Thomasville.
“We’ve taken care of Moultrie patients for years,” said Dr. Johnson. “Dr. Saunders and I are thrilled to work with the Colquitt Regional team to offer radiation oncology treatment options close to home for patients in Moultrie and the surrounding communities.”
“We have been working toward establishing a radiation oncology center for several years,” added Colquitt Regional President and CEO Jim Matney. “It was important to us to provide access to this service for the people of Moultrie and the surrounding areas. The technology that we will offer is the most modern available on the market.”
“We know how important it is for patients in rural areas to have access to high-quality care,” said Dr. Johnson. “When you provide good quality care and access to state-of-the-art cancer-fighting technology, patients will stay in the area to receive that level of care.”
About the Center
Colquitt Regional added 6,900 square feet of space to the existing hospital structure. The new radiation oncology center connects to the Edwards Cancer Center, a facility that was constructed in 2018 and houses the hospital’s medical oncology services. The recent expansion created space for a lobby, a conference area for patient consultations, six exam rooms, four dressing rooms and a treatment area for radiation oncology services.
In addition to providing patients a comfortable space, the expansion of the Center was thoughtfully designed to provide efficiency for physicians and staff performing the treatment. The new treatment area and treatment planning areas are located in close proximity to medical oncology and the hospital’s radiology department as well.
The radiation oncology treatment area houses the most advanced radiation oncology treatment technology available — the Elekta Versa HD™ radiation treatment system. The Versa HD provides the flexibility to treat a broad spectrum of tumors throughout the body while enabling the treatment of highly complex cancers that require extreme targeting precision.
The system’s patented technology conforms to each patient’s tumor size, shape and volume, allowing physicians to administer higher dose rates which can enhance treatment effectiveness while protecting critical anatomy such as the heart, spine or bladder. Each dosage of radiation is determined by a dosimetrist, who uses scans of the patient to tailor the dosage to the patient’s exact needs.
The machine then creates a beam that is focalized on the tumor, working to make small breaks in the DNA inside cells. The breaks that the radiation therapy creates keep cancer cells from growing and dividing and ultimately cause the cells to die. A typical treatment takes only two to five minutes, and patients can expect to receive this therapy during a three-to-six-week period, depending on their specific needs.
“The Versa HD technology is incredible,” said Dr. Johnson. “It provides physicians with a broad range of advanced cancer treatment solutions, which results in us being able to provide the best care for our patients.”
Written by: Megan A. Powell