Menorah Medical Center
November 17, 2010

A decade ago as doctors tried to diagnose cancer so they could successfully treat it, most patients had to undergo invasive tests and surgery. Back then, it was much more difficult for doctors to understand the type, extent and location of cancer cells. These days, a combination of positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) is more commonly used to detect, diagnose and stage various types of disease, including cancer.

Menorah Medical Center announces today that it is investing $2.6 million in the most advanced PET/CT scanner to be available in Kansas City. Beginning in early 2011, Menorah’s doctors will use the new highly advanced diagnostic imaging system to gather critical information on tumors. The razor-sharp clarity of images will assist physicians in diagnosing disease early when treatment may be more effective. It will also help them select the most effective treatment for that patient’s type of cancer.

For example, if radiation treatment is the most appropriate way to treat a certain type of tumor, information from a PET/CT scan will help doctors pinpoint a tumor’s precise location and develop the best plan to target cancer. When it comes to receiving radiation treatment, cancer patients need advanced targeted options that minimize side effects and spare healthy tissue. “It’s important that treatment is localized and quick,“ says Shalina Gupta-Burt, MD, a dual certified radiation and medical oncologist at Midwest Cancer Care at Menorah Medical Center. “Futuristic technology is critical when you’re fighting cancer.”

Now the thousands of Kansas City metro area residents that are diagnosed annually with cancer will have the opportunity to take advantage of this leading-edge technology at Midwest Cancer Care at Menorah Medical Center. PET takes an image of how cells processes glucose and pinpoints irregular cell activity that could be cancer, while CT looks for abnormalities in the anatomy, such as tumors and lesions.

So what exactly does the science of the newest generation of PET/CT mean for patients?

“As physicians on the frontlines helping individuals fight their disease, the new technology combines what traditional PET/CT scans did separately,” says Dr. Gupta-Burt, MD. “We can better define someone’s tumor and plan more efficient and effective treatment. The razor-sharp images generated by the new scanner will perhaps lessen the amount of radiation necessary, better determine the timing of surgery and spare healthy tissue around a tumor.”

Menorah Medical Center is the only hospital in Kansas City area to offer this revolutionary technology.

“This $2.6 million imaging system is the best available on the market,” says Menorah Medical Center president and chief executive officer Steven D. Wilkinson. “The new scanner is another tool that Midwest Cancer Care at Menorah Medical Center has to offer patients in their journey to efficiently diagnose and treat their disease.”

When it comes to excellence in cancer care, Midwest Cancer Care at Menorah Medical Center is considered among the best in the country. Recently recognized with a prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer (CoC), Midwest Cancer Care at Menorah Medical Center is in an elite group of 82 accredited cancer programs across the United States.

Bradley Koffman, MD, radiation oncologist, leads the CyberKnife technology at Menorah Medical Center and says the addition of the new PET/CT scanner means the hospital’s radiation oncology department will be the only one in the region with access to the technology. “This is significant news for cancer patients because it means we can do better diagnostic work and incorporate findings in our radiation treatment plans,” explains Koffman. “It’s a distinct advantage for individuals with head, neck and lung tumors, in addition to other types of tumors, because we can accurately identify and target those tumors.”

In addition, the technology offers improved patient comfort due to the shorter length of time it takes to perform a scan as well as the scanner’s open scanning design, which alleviates the sense of claustrophobia some patients experience in conventional PET/CT systems. Lastly, it offers unique methods to greatly reduce radiation exposure to patients, helping to spare healthy tissue.

Menorah Medical Center, part of HCA Midwest Health System, Kansas City’s largest healthcare network, has provided comprehensive nuclear medicine/imaging services to the community for more than two decades.

“We are committed at Menorah Medical Center to provide every patient with the highest level of care in an environment where people, compassion, community and integrity are valued,” says Wilkinson. “The addition of the new PET/CT system allows us to offer the community the latest technology to help achieve more positive outcomes for our patients.”