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WPAHS Cancer Institute Brings Advanced Cancer Treatment to Peters Outpatient Center
By Nancy Kennedy

Advanced cancer care provided by one of America's most highly regarded radiation oncology programs is now conveniently available to residents of Pittsburgh's South Hills and surrounding communities. West Penn Allegheny Health System's Cancer Institute has opened a cancer treatment center that offers cutting-edge radiation therapies and other services at the new Outpatient Care Center in Peters Township. Patients with cancers of all types will be able to receive treatment from a team of expert cancer specialists in the new facility. According to David Parda, M.D., chairperson of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Cancer Institute at Allegheny General Hospital/West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS), the new state-of-the-art facility was developed in recognition of unmet needs of patients and families in the region. "Our goal is to ensure that the great majority of cancer care is delivered in patients' communities since this is best for the overall well-being of each patient and their family; however, it is equally important that each patient has access to developing cancer care at Allegheny General Hospital when it has the potential to improve the individual patient's outcome. The ultimate goal is to make this navigation of cancer care easier on patients and their families."

Parda says that most cancer treatment is provided on an outpatient basis and the new Peters Outpatient Care Center will offer the most advanced treatments. Radiation therapies offered at Peters include three-dimensional conformal external beam radiotherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, image guided radiation therapy, 4D CT simulation, prostate brachytherapy and extracranial stereotactic body radiation therapy. "We have an integrated network of eleven satellite centers throughout the region, and now with this new center we have them in every geographic direction," Parda explains. "We treat patients with all types of cancer; the most common are breast and prostate cancer, followed by lung and colorectal cancer. This outpatient center is really making a difference for patients. Being able to come to a center that is close to home, where there is free parking right outside the door and everything is on one floor, makes it far more manageable for the majority of cancer care."

Patients seem to agree. The Peters Outpatient Care Center opened in September and has already exceeded expectations for patient volume. Feedback from patients has been strongly positive.

Allegheny General Hospital is a nationally recognized, quaternary medical center that offers the most progressive treatments for all types of cancer and also plays a leading role in research and medical education. Approximately half of all cancer patients receive some form of radiation therapy; patients with breast, prostate, lung, brain, gastrointestinal and other tumors come to the AGH department of radiation oncology for expert specialty care from a multidisciplinary team of professionals, including radiation oncologists and residents, medical physicists, dosimetrists (professionals who plan and calculate radiation dosages), nurses and radiation therapy technicians. At AGH, radiation oncology is both art and science, and the entire department is committed to a "patients come first" philosophy.

Dr. Parda says that AGH has built, for the entire region, a complete cancer center that is patient-focused. The cancer treatment center at Peters complements the department of radiation oncology at the hospital. "We have the same capabilities at Peters as at AGH and 90% of our services can be provided there, but for specialized surgical procedures and newer treatments, the hospital is the appropriate setting. It's essential to have a two way street between the community, which maintains the standard of care, and the hospital, which advances the standard of care."

Cancer care, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, is enabling patients to live longer, says Parda. "In general, cancer deaths are decreasing and cure rates are improving. Our field is a dynamic one and we are continuing to advance in relation to greater accuracy and targeting radiation specifically for each individual patient's situation. Improved computer technology, improved radiation technology and emerging knowledge in cancer biology are making this possible.

"Every day, we cure people of cancer. Even if we cannot do that, we still have something to offer the patient: we can alleviate pain and improve quality of life. We can always help in some way. With our new treatment center at the Outpatient Care Center in Peters, our patients receive specialty care in a user-friendly environment from expert professionals who care about them as individuals."

The Outpatient Care Center is located at 160 Gallery Drive, right off Route 19 in McMurray. For more information or to register for an appointment, call (724) 260-7250. To contact Dr. David Parda call (412) 359-8084. To learn more, visit www.wpahs.org.

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