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Radiation therapy marks 60 years in Hastings
It's hard to believe it's been 60 years since radiation therapy came to Hastings and central Nebraska. Dr. Larry McKinnis and Dr. Thomas Zusag joined News 5 to talk about this achievement.
Amy: Dr. McKinnis, can you tell us a little bit about the history of radiation in central Nebraska?
Dr. McKinnis: Radiation therapy was originally introduced by Dr. Warren Richard in 1952 and this was superficial and deep therapy x-ray. Cobalt was introduced in 1970. This was the only Cobalt unit between Lincoln and Denver at that time so the hospital board and the hospital administration was very wise and had a good vision in establishing a good foundation for radiation therapy.
Amy: Obviously, a lot of foresight. So what kind of impact did that make 60 years ago having this as the hub for that?
Dr. McKinnis: This made a tremendous impact because radiation therapy was an essential part of treatment of cancer at that time which involved both the very primitive chemical treatment of cancer as well as surgery. But radiation therapy then was an integral part of curing cancer.
Amy: Thank you, Dr. McKinnis. And, Dr. Zusag, let's talk about how we use radiation therapy now.
Dr. Zusag: Now we have vastly improved equipment compared to what we have had in the past. Our field has been one where the technology has advanced continuously over the years to the point where you wouldn't recognize the machines today compared to the old machines in the past. We have machines that can very precisely shape the radiation beams from many different angles onto a tumor. We know a lot more about the radialbiology, how much dose to give over the course of radiation depending on the tumor. And we know a lot more about how to combine the radiation with chemotherapy - something that has only really been going on for the past 20-25 years or so.
Amy: So we're definitely celebrating being able to help people. Tell us about this event. It is coming up Tuesday, November 13th. Where do people go and what can they expect?
Dr. Zusag: We're holding the event at the Morrison Cancer Center. There's going to be some exhibits and a lot of conversation. We're going to demonstrate the department. I've only been here for a few weeks so I'm kind of the new boy in town, radiation oncologist, and anticipate staying here for quite some time.
Amy: Well, we're happy to have you. Again, that is Tuesday, November 13th at the Morrison Cancer Center in Hastings from 6:00 to 8:00 pm.
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