Friday, May 31, 2013 - Winchester Medical Center Cancer Program Adds Stereotactic Radiosurgery: Partnership with UVA Health System Facilitates Advanced Treatment Locally

Winchester Medical Center has expanded its cancer program with the addition of stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), offered in partnership with University of Virginia Health System. The service will focus on treatment of brain, spine and certain lung cancers.


“Our partnership with UVA Health System offers clinical and patient care advantages,” says Bruce Flax, MD, a radiation oncologist at WMC and co-medical director of Valley Health’s oncology service line. “We’re collaborating with nationally recognized leaders in stereotactic radiosurgery to provide this advanced technology for patients who in the past would have had to travel out of the area for treatment.”


Radiosurgery is a non-surgical procedure that delivers larger doses of precisely-targeted radiation to small tumors, sparing critical organs and healthy tissue. It is used to treat many types of brain tumors and may also be used in treating small-to-medium size tumors in the head or neck, lung or elsewhere in the body. SRS and SBRT work in the same way as other forms of radiation treatment, destroying cancer cells and causing tumors to shrink. Each treatment usually takes 30-60 minutes. Patients may have a single treatment or multiple treatments (up to five) over time.


Patients will receive SRS or SBRT treatment in the WMC Radiation Oncology Department. Treatment of cranial or extra-cranial tumors requires a specially-fitted face mask or frame to immobilize and carefully position the patient’s head. Four-dimensional CT imaging, which captures the location of a tumor as well as its movement, will help the radiation oncologist, physicist and other staff ensure accurate treatment. One of the department’s linear accelerators, which produce a targeted beam of high-energy X-rays, has been up-fitted for radiosurgery, with a robotic couch added to facilitate delivery of radiation beams from different angles.


A radiation oncologist and a neurosurgeon oversee stereotactic procedures. Dr. Flax and Winchester neurosurgeons Lee Selznick, MD, and Allan Fergus, MD, have completed specialized training in radiosurgery and radiotherapy and are credentialed by UVA Health System and WMC to provide the service in Winchester.


UVA Health System is providing management services and medical direction for SRS/SBRT services in collaboration with WMC’s cancer program physicians and staff. As part of that collaboration, local cancer specialists and neurosurgeons will have weekly case discussions with UVA specialists using teleconferencing technology.  “We are pleased to bring our experience from treating thousands of patients at UVA to help patients in the Winchester area get convenient access to cutting-edge care,” said UVA neurosurgeon Jason Sheehan, MD, PhD, the program’s medical director.


“We are very excited about this partnership with UVA to bring radiosurgery to the Northern Shenandoah Valley,” says Suanne Thurman Gersdorf, Valley Health Vice President of Corporate Service Lines and executive director for oncology services. “We have an excellent cancer program, and the availability of this advanced technology, along with the addition of our surgical oncologist and thoracic surgeon, further enhances the services we can offer patients locally.”