LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -The Leah M. Fitch Cancer Center in Lawton now has a newer type of radiation therapy that will be used to treat certain types of cancer.

Brachytherapy delivers focused radiation directly to the cancer tumor, and minimizes the exposure around it where there is no cancer, preserving good tissue while attacking the cancer directly. This can make it the preferred treatment for certain types of cancer over traditional external beam therapy.

"You can tailor it now with digitization to make all kinds of patterns. So, if you had a butterfly shaped tumor, you can make a butterfly shaped pattern with brachytherapy.

Or if you have a tumor that extends one direction you can make the dose go out in that one direction," explained Dr. J. Michael Kerley, a radiation oncologist at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Kerley said brachytherapy is just another tool to help fight cancer and it will increase their ability to treat breast and gynecological cancers. He says this also gives them the option to accelerate breast cancer treatment.

Breast cancer treatment in the U.S. typically takes six to six-and-a-half weeks, but with this technology they can speed that up to about three weeks for patients with no lymph node involvement.

"This will let us to do it in ten fractions, which we could do over one or two weeks. And the technology, since brachytherapy, is real short ranged you can treat the breast and miss the heart completely," Dr. Kerley said.

Another advantage to brachytherapy is not having to have an applicator put in the breast, which is uncomfortable and can cause infection.

Dr. Kerley says instead, fiducial markers are placed inside the breast during the time of lumpectomy surgery, which are small and flexible and partly dissolve after a year.

"We can visualize these and only treat the part of the breast that has these in them. So instead of treating the whole breast, we are treating about an eighth of the breast. It heals up faster, the cosmetic appearance is better, we give higher doses this way," Dr. Kerley said.

Dr. Kerley says it's a great advantage to patients in Southwest Oklahoma to be able to have this option available right here.

"This allows us to treat patients we couldn't have otherwise treated. It allows to treat with what's called accelerated partial breast treatment and it allows us to treat patients who have been previously treated that have no other recourse expect some major surgery," Dr. Kerley said.

In other health news, March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and the Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma in Lawton, Duncan and Altus is offering free colon cancer screening kits through the end of the month. Visit any of the three locations to pick yours up or inquire about all of your screening options.

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