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McGlinn Cancer Institute Celebrates Treatment of 100th Patient Using MRI-Guided Linear Accelerator

by Reading Hospital - Tower Health

Mar 11, 2021

On Tuesday, January 12, McGlinn Cancer Institute at Reading Hospital – Tower Health celebrated the 100th patient, Ann Cockrell of Sinking Spring, to receive treatment from the MRIdian® Linear Accelerator which was installed at Reading Hospital just over a year ago.

In August 2020 Ann was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to her liver. After her diagnosis, she and her husband began to meet with the physicians and team members at McGlinn Cancer Institute at Reading Hospital to discuss the personalized treatment plan they recommended for her. “I can’t say enough about the team at McGlinn Cancer Institute. Everyone is helpful, kind, and supportive. We were encouraged by friends and family that recommended staying close to home for treatment if you can. I felt safe at McGlinn Cancer Institute for my treatment.”

At the recommendation of her Reading Hospital medical oncology team, Ann’s first step was to complete a round of chemotherapy to shrink the tumors on the liver and pancreas. With that initial treatment complete, Ann had her first appointment with the Radiation Oncology team where they shared that, because of the success of her chemotherapy, she was a candidate for the MRI-Guided linear accelerator treatment to treat the pancreatic cancer.

The MRI-guided system greatly enhances treatment of tumors in places that can be hard to reach within the body, can move with a patient’s breathing and digestion during treatment, or are located near critical organs such as the heart, lungs, and upper abdomen. It combines two pieces of equipment into one, allowing physicians to conduct a patient’s radiation therapy treatment while simultaneously looking at a real-time image of the tumor through MRI. The technology allows physicians to create a targeted radiation field that is more precise and minimizes exposure to healthy tissue. McGlinn Cancer Institute at Reading Hospital was the first in Pennsylvania to utilize the MRI-Guided Linear Accelerator, representing an important advance in using this type of radiation to treat cancer.

Ann knew the technology was relatively new to Reading Hospital, but she and her husband did their research and confirmed what her physician, Adam Smith, MD, Radiation Oncologist, shared with her. The technology is safe and precise. “I’m grateful this treatment option was available to me. I had five rapid treatments and was pleasantly surprised that they all went as easily as they did,” she said. “I had a fantastic support system inside and outside the hospital – God, my husband, my friends, and the team at the hospital.”

“Many of our patients are excited to learn that this technology is available to them,” said Michael Haas, MD, Chief, Section of Radiation Oncology. “It’s really remarkable technology and we are grateful we are able to offer it, in part, by a donation from the McGlinn Family for whom the McGlinn Cancer Institute is named. In real-time our team can adjust treatment plans, if necessary, based on the unique position of the internal organs on each given treatment day.”

For others facing a difficult diagnosis Ann recommends “not to be afraid to do your own research and ask a lot of questions. It’s your body and it’s important. If the provider doesn’t know the answer, they will find it for you.”

Dr. Smith added, “Ann and her husband always came to her appointments prepared with their questions. She also shared her goals with us and that was really important so we could work together to develop the best treatment plan for her.”

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