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News: Centegra Advances Cancer Care and Treatment with New PET Scanner

Patients receiving cancer care at Centegra Health System will now have one of the most advanced PET/CT scanners available to aid in the detection and treatment of patients with common cancer.

The new PET scanner, GE’s Discovery ST is a redesigned PET/CT system completely optimized for cancer care. The system integrates a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner with a multi-slice Computed Tomography (CT) scanner and is capable of two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) imaging able to accommodate any size patient or for special studies. The new Discovery ST system provides physicians with more sensitivity, speed, resolution and diagnostic confidence with allows for more appropriate, individualized cancer treatment strategies to be devised. The new scanner is housed at the Centegra Sage Cancer Center located adjacent to the Emergency Department at Centegra Northern Illinois Medical Center campus in McHenry.

The “ST”  in Discovery ST stands for “See and Treat,”  which is what this new system allows physicians to do. The Discovery ST assists physicians in seeing the disease and planning radiation therapy treatment, according to Nuclear Medicine Physician, Philip Gilroy, MD and Radiation Oncology Service Director, Terrence J. Bugno, MD of Centegra Health System. The new system will also shorten scan times as well as provide improved image quality in both 2D and 3D modes.

“Less time on the table means faster results and greater patient comfort,”  states Dr. Gilroy. “And with this novel technology, the improvements in better image quality allows us to best see where the disease is, even if located in what looks to be normal anatomy,”  Being able to correctly identify the true extent of cancer can assist Dr. Bugno and other cancer specialists in creating more sophisticated treatment plans, especially using radiation therapy. “It’s the greater confidence in our detection of where cancer is located which creates the foundations for best care,”  Dr. Bugno said.

More than 6 million people in the world will die from cancer this year according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, one in three will be diagnosed with cancer in his or her lifetime. Centegra has been evolving the continuum of cancer care options for the local residents so that the same high level of treatment experienced at major university centers can be obtained close to home.

“The Discovery ST is another example of Centegra’s commitment to innovation and technology for early disease detection and in supporting physicians in their quest for improved diagnosis and treatment,”  said Michael S. Eesley, Centegra President and CEO. “This technology allows easier placement of virtually any sized patient with special needs, while having capabilities of performing specific setups used in radiation therapy planning. It also is “Ëœpatient friendly’, especially for claustrophobic or highly-anxious patients,”  Eesley added.

GE’s Discovery ST combines the fastest and most sophisticated computed tomography (CT) technology with the most advanced Positron Emission Tomography (PET) technology – all in a single exam. Individually, each technique has its value. PET images show where clusters of cells have a high metabolism, which can be very characteristic of cancer and is based upon function. CT scans identify images inside the body based on anatomy. Often, however, cancers can reside in what appears to be normal looking anatomy. Together, the PET/CT can correlate high areas of metabolism with specific anatomical locations to best pinpoint the locations for cancer.

Before having a PET/CT scan, the patient receives a dose of a radiopharmaceutical tracer containing substances that mimic those normally used in the body including water, sugars, proteins and oxygen. These tracers can preferentially accumulate in diseased cells. During the scan, the tracers are detected by the system creating an image of the patient and highlighting any abnormal physiology. “This technique of image fusion best characterizes if, where and how much disease is present, while demonstrating further pockets of cancer which may have been missed due to normal appearance. We can improve our patient’s treatment strategies in collaboration with medical/surgical oncologists which will hopefully lead to better outcomes,”  Bugno added.

The Centegra Sage Cancer Center enables more McHenry County residents to receive advanced cancer care close to home by offering services such as: intensity modulated radiation therapy, linac based external beam conformal therapies, high-dose rate and permanent seed brachytherapy, conventional chemotherapy, hormone, immunotherapy and the extensive array of new biological agents. In addition to standard therapies, various supportive therapies including massage, yoga, Tai Chi, stress management, nutritional and psychospiritual support programs serve to enhance the cancer treatment experience. The Centegra Sage Cancer Center has an ongoing approval by the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer.