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September 2017

Linear accelerators target cancerous tumors

UHS now has two linear accelerators to treat cancer.

A linear accelerator, also sometimes called a LINAC, is the device most commonly used for external beam radiation treatments for patients with cancer.

Developed in the 1950s by Henry Kaplan, MD, and Edward Ginzton, at Stanford University in California, LINACs have come a long way over the years.

Today the machines are in use worldwide to treat cancer in any part of the body, delivering high-energy X-rays or electrons to the region of the patient's tumor.

UHS' recent addition of a second LINAC, this one with the brand name TrueBeam, essentially replaces the old CyberKnife robotic device at UHS Wilson Medical Center and enhances UHS' ability to provide patients with the best in radiation treatment for cancer.

"Our LINACs are designed to target the cancer cells while sparing as much of the healthy tissue in the vicinity as possible," said Rashid Haq, MD, radiation oncologist at the UHS Cancer Care Center. "They offer sub-millimeter accuracy in going at the cancer from numerous angles. Radiation and image guidance have advanced incredibly over the past 15 years, helping to ensure that we are hitting our target."

Today's LINACs are fast, meaning that some treatments that once took half an hour can now be completed in two minutes. Faster delivery also means reduced likelihood of tumor motion during treatment, which helps protect nearby healthy tissue and critical organs.

"TrueBeam also was designed to enhance the patient experience," the manufacturer, Varian, said in a statement. "Thanks to an advanced communications system, the therapist running it can be in constant contact with the patient."

Most importantly, the LINACs used today at UHS and other medical centers unlock treatment options for patients who might not have been candidates for earlier types of radiation therapy.

If you or a loved one are dealing with cancer and would like to learn if radiation is a possible option, talk with your primary care provider or oncologist.

Additional information about UHS' cancer program can be found on

Concussion calls for quick, correct action

A concussion is a type of brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally functions. A concussion also can occur from a fall or a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth.

Signs of a concussion after an injury include such wide-ranging phenomena as difficulty thinking clearly, feeling “slow” or feeling “down,” blurry vision, balance problems, sensitivity to noise or light, or sleeping more or less than usual.

If you or a loved one ever experiences a concussion, it’s important to seek the right kind of medical care as soon as possible. Appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and patient and family education are critical in enabling a concussion patient to achieve the best possible recovery and reduce adverse health outcomes.

The UHS Concussion Program, based at the UHS Orthopedic Center on the Vestal Parkway, offers a full range of concussion diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and management services, including care provided by physicians, physical therapists and a neuropsychologist.

For information about the program, call 771-2220.

In addition, UHS maintains a Concussion Hotline that takes calls any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hotline number is 240-2706.

Remember, in the event of any serious injury, always call 911.

Implant prevents blood clots from forming

It's a new medical device that's saving lives around the world. It's called Watchman, and it's available now for the first time in the Southern Tier. The Watchman implant can reduce the risk of stroke in certain patients with an irregular heartbeat, offering an alternative to the long-term use of blood thinners. It’s expressly for people who have the type of atrial fibrillation that isn’t caused by a heart valve problem.

Watchman is a screen-and-net-like device designed to permanently block off the left atrial appendage of the heart and keep blood clots from escaping. More than 20,000 Watchman procedures have been performed worldwide. Now it’s available right here in Greater Binghamton, at UHS’ Structural Heart & Valve Program in Johnson City.

Talk with your healthcare provider about the potential risks and benefits, and see if Watchman may be right for you. It could be a life-changing conversation.

Learn more at

About our program:

The Structural Heart & Valve Program of the UHS Heart & Vascular Institute is located on the campus of UHS Wilson Medical Center. The program specializes in the most advanced forms of coronary stenting, aortic valve replacement, closures and ablation for congenital heart defects, mitral valve repair, and implantation of Watchman.

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