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Interview with Jerry Derdel, M.D., About Radiation Therapy

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Medical Minute: 3:49

Dave Kurten:  3WZ’s Medical Minute is brought to you by Mt. Nittany Medical Center;
“Mt. Nittany – life forward.”  Our guest today is Jerry Derdel, M.D. Radiation Oncologist at Mt. Nittany Medical Center.  We’re going to talk about Radiation Therapy; first of all, describe the technology available here in State College for patients with cancer needing radiation therapy.

Jerry Derdel:  We’ve had a Cancer Center here in State College since 1984; we’ve provided radiation oncology services since that time but more recently have had some dramatic changes and improvements in equipment.  We recently have installed a Varian Trilogy machine, which is a state of the art piece of equipment that allows us to treat the vast majority of patients with cancer, utilizing different radiation techniques.  The wonderful thing about this machine is that it allows us to treat not only with more conventional types of radiation that is electrons and photons but also with the newer techniques.  These include the use of IMRT and IGRT, these are state of the art techniques that allow us to better identify the target volume and allow us to conform the radiation treatment fields and beams to the target volume.  This allows us to better shield the surrounding critical structures, what this does is allows us to have a better dose to the tumor with less dose to the surrounding normal tissues.  Because of this, patients tolerate treatment better and hopefully will have a better response because we can then treat with higher doses. 

Dave Kurten:  And the RapidArc software that has been added to the technology to treat patients, how does this make the patients’ experience better?

Jerry Derdel:  Well this is the latest upgrade that we’ve had to our new piece of equipment.  What the RapidArc is, it allows us to deliver the same treatment that they would have otherwise but much more quickly.  For example, a complicated treatment might take 10 to even 20 minutes because of the need to rotate the table, rotate the gantry, different positions of the beams entering the patient; what RapidArc does is allows you to deliver the same treatment but in one sweep of the machine over the patient.  This then cuts the treatment time down dramatically, often as few as 3-5 minutes.  Because of a quicker treatment time, the patient does not need to lie on the table as long and this aids patient comfort, especially those patients of ours that are sicker or in pain.  This allows us to get the treatment in more easily and with less discomfort for the patient.

Dave Kurten:  Is this treatment successful on most types of cancers?

Jerry Derdel:  The RapidArc is used only in those treatments that require a benefit from IMRT or IGRT.  These are used in selective patients sites, but we can use them in certainly prostate cancer, pelvic cancer, even in breast cancer, certainly in head and neck cancer; so, probably at least 2/3 of the cancers can be treated with this type of technique.  The other patients that we treat, though with more conventional treatments, those treatments are pretty quick anyway; they’re about 3-5 minutes even without RapidArc so there would be no advantage to adding RapidArc to those treatments.

Dave Kurten:  How can our listeners get more information about cancer services close to home?

Jerry Derdel:  Well we have a wonderful resource at Mt. Nittany Medical Center, she is a patient navigator and her name is Kristin Sides.  She works with individual patients and can help guide them through the complicated process of diagnosis and treatment and even following treatments.  She can be reached at Mt. Nittany Medical Center at 814-234-6175.

Dave Kurten:  Dr. Derdel from Mt. Nittany Medical Center has been our guest today on the 3WZ Medical Minute.  Thanks for spending some time with us today.

Jerry Derdel:  Thank you very much for the opportunity to come and speak with you.

Dave Kurten:  3WZ Medical Minute is brought to you by Mt. Nittany Medical Center – “Mt. Nittany Life Forward.”


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