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Washington County Health System
  Oncology Treatments


“We stay current with the latest in medical research. We can offer excellent cancer care for 98 percent of our patients, and for those who have unusual cancers, we don't hesitate to refer them for treatment at academic medical centers in Baltimore or Washington, D.C.”
- Dr. Michael McCormack, Oncologist

“Chemotherapy” is probably one of the first words that comes to mind when we think about cancer treatment. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, meaning that it affects a person’s entire body rather than just the organs or tissues with cancer. This can be very important, since the drugs can reach cancerous cells that may have spread to other parts of the body.

The John R. Marsh Cancer Center has an infusion/chemotherapy room and seven private treatment rooms. Oncology certified nurses administer the chemotherapy medications prescribed by your doctor. The treatments are given in a spacious, comfortable atmosphere where patients can read, watch movies or television, sleep, or even visit with friends and family.

Chemotherapy may be used as the primary treatment for a patient, to control a tumor’s growth, to shrink a tumor before surgery, to kill cells that may be outside a tumor, or to alleviate pain and other symptoms. Individuals being treated with chemotherapy may experience side effects, but there are many ways that we can help make them more comfortable during treatment. We encourage our patients to ask questions and to talk with us freely so that we can work together to alleviate any discomforts they are experiencing.

The treatments and technologies available to individuals with cancer are continually changing and improving. Radiation treatments offer the benefit of being able to attack cancerous cells aggressively while limiting potential damage to a patient’s healthy tissue. In recent years, medical advancements have given doctors the ability to offer radiation treatments with much more precision. The Marsh Center’s radiation oncologists administer treatments using state-of-the-art equipment on which all of our staff are licensed and specially trained.

CT-capable simulator
This is where patients who will receive radiation therapy begin. The Center’s new CT scanner, the GE LightSpeed RT, produces a series of thin image “slices” that the physician uses to create a three-dimension view of the patient’s organs. This is called a “simulation.” The scanner offers a number of benefits in addition to its imaging capabilities, the most important of which is that it permits our radiation oncologists to deliver high doses of radiation to cancerous areas without increasing side effects or damage to the patient’s healthy tissues. It also features an extra-large opening that allows us to position patients to get the best view of their tumors.

Eclipse Treatment Planning Center
Once patients have been scanned, or “simulated,” the images are sent to the Eclipse Treatment Planning Center. This software system allows our oncologists to determine the best treatment plan for each patient, and our dosimetrists and physicists to plan the details of how to best administer the treatment. Eclipse is seamlessly integrated into the Center’s other systems and helps us to offer our patients the most advanced treatments possible.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
In intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), computer-controlled linear accelerators deliver specific amounts of radiation to a tumor without affecting the surrounding tissues. Individuals with malignant tumors of the prostate, head, neck, or breast are the usual candidates for IMRT, although it may also be used to treat certain patients with cancers of the lung, liver, or lymph nodes. While the patient lies on a table, a linear accelerator machine sends radiation into the tumor. The dosage can vary by shape, depth, and intensity. The John R. Marsh Cancer Center uses the Varian 2100 EX linear accelerator, which targets radiation very precisely, delivering treatment in the exact shape of the tumor.

We’re also able to deliver radiation internally. We are particularly excited about two new options for our patients: prostate seed implants and mammosite therapy.

Prostate Seed Implant
The prostate seed implant is an alternative to surgery for the treatment of prostate cancer. Tiny pellets containing radioactive medication are permanently implanted directly in the center of cancerous tissue, where they give off low-level radiation for approximately one year.


© 2009
Washington County Health System
251 East Antietam Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740

TDD: 1-800-735-2258