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A look at the history of cancer treatment
It was a six letter word that caused fear and for many meant certain death. But since its discovery in ancient Egypt treatment for the disease has come a long way.
It wasn't until the 1950's that doctors began treating cancer patients right here in Central Nebraska.
The opening of the Morrison Cancer Center meant hope for those battling the big C.
"This was at the early part of radiation therapy in this country," said Dr. Jerry Adler.
The year was 1952. Cancer patients only had a few options to go for treatment.
"The fact that we were such a distance from any area that was doing radiation therapy currently, which would have been Lincoln or Denver they needed more access in this area," Adler said.
But that all changed thanks to one doctor.
"In 1952, Dr. Richard organized, not only that as a beginning of radiation, they opened their doors in 1952 doing radiation therapy," said Adler.
Because radiation therapy was an essential part of cancer treatment at the time, Doctor Warren Richard introduced superficial and deep therapy x-ray to Central Nebraska.
"These were treatments that really affected the skin tremendously because the deeper tumors, the deeper tissues had to be reached by going through the skin first and then the x-ray caused a lot of reaction to the skin," said Dr. Larry McKinnis
In the 60 years since the Morrison Cancer Center opened, the way cancer is treated as changed tremendously.
"Since then other things have been added to the treatment of cancer that can target cells even more precisely than the 1980's," McKinnis said.
For instance, the CT scan.
"We probably wouldn't have had CT without a musical group," said Adler.
That's right, one of the biggest groups of all times.
"This musical group was the Beatles," Adler said.
Money from Beatles record sales helped fund the invention of the CT scan. Given the advancements in radiation therapy, treatment times have been drastically reduced.
"Sometimes patients would have to lie for 20-25 minutes for treatments, but now with linear accelerators the treatments are much quicker," said McKinnis.
But even with modern science, the next big discovery is still unknown.
Radiation therapy has been an integral part of curing cancer, and having the tools and resources in Central Nebraska has been instrumental to help those patients.
From fear to hope right in our back yard.
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