Members of the Bothwell Regional Health Center Cancer Center stand next to the hospital’s new Accuboost equipment, which is used in radiation treatment for breast cancer patients.

Bothwell Regional Health Center has a new piece of equipment aimed at reducing the amount of radiation given to certain breast cancer patients.

Accuboost debuted at Bothwell this week, with the first three patients being treated Thursday, according to Chief Operating Officer Tom Bailey.

The technology, which has been around for about 10 years, Bailey said, offers a more focused radiation for breast cancer patients who need a boost treatment. The equipment looks like a mammography machine but has radiation capabilities. 

“When you give a series of radiation treatments to someone with breast cancer, there could be indications to use boost treatment – extra radiation on top of standard treatments to kill more cancer cells in certain places,” Bailey explained. “It betters your prognosis. Your likelihood of being cancer free goes up.”

However, those extra treatments offer a significant dose of radiation to tissues near the breast, such as the heart, lungs, spine and non-cancerous breast tissue. Accuboost is focused on the tumor or lumpectomy location and almost completely eliminates radiation exposure to other tissues. 

“Dr. (William) Decker will look at the image in comparison to the screening mammography that the woman has had,” Chief Radiation Therapist Kara Sheeley explained. “He’ll locate the tumor bed either from the calcifications or if there are surgical clips from the lumpectomy and determine the size of the field we want to use. Then we have an HDR source, high dose radiation.”

Accuboost patients will still receive whole breast radiation for a portion of their prescription, Sheeley added.

Another method of radiation treatment is with a catheter placed inside the lumpectomy cavity, Sheeley explained. Accuboost administers radiation externally, so there’s no wound or risk of infection from a catheter, plus no scarring.

Sheeley and Bailey noted that not every patient needs boost treatment, as it’s based on the type of cancer and its location, but that having Accuboost offers another treatment option for those who do qualify.

Bailey was the one who brought the idea of purchasing Accuboost technology to Bothwell. At his last hospital, he served as the oncology director and the department had Accuboost.

“They were unaware of this tech being out there,” Bailey said of Bothwell. “When I got here and talked to Dr. Decker about it, I called Accuboost and had them visit and give a presentation. Dr. Decker decided this would indeed benefit our patients.”

Bothwell is now the only hospital in Missouri to offer Accuboost treatments. It is just the latest piece of technology Bothwell has purchased to help breast cancer patients. The Bothwell Foundation is also raising funds for a stereotactic table to help with diagnosis.

“Our goal is the stereotactic table, it will allow us to identify cancers more rapidly than before,” Bailey said. “We have also added a breast coil, which allows us to perform MRIs of the breast, which would make our diagnoses more accurate. The Accuboost will improve the outcome of many breast cancer patients and should increase their survival rate.”


Nicole Cooke is the editor for the Sedalia Democrat, overseeing all newsroom operations and assisting with news coverage of Sedalia and Pettis County. She can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.

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