Intermountain Healthcare will offer new cancer treatment to Utah County

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Cancer patients in Utah County will soon have access to a recently developed treatment at the Intermountain Care Center in American Fork.

The five oncologists at the American Fork cancer center will treat about 350 cancer patients a year. Cancer treatment options typically include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. High-dose rate brachytherapy will be added to the cancer center’s arsenal of treatments this summer.

This recently developed radiation therapy allows doctors to deliver treatment with precision. High doses of radiotherapy are delivered directly to specific areas, Dr. Brandon Barney, radiation oncologist at American Fork Hospital, explained in a news release. “This reduces the chance of exposure to unaffected areas and organs,” Barney said.

Oncologists at American Fork Hospital called the high-dose rate brachytherapy technology “cutting edge.” The therapy has been found effective in treatment of prostate, breast, gynecological and skin cancers, according to Utah Valley Healthcare Foundation. “Having HDR brachytherapy at American Fork Hospital will be a great benefit to patients in North Utah County,” said Chantelle Turner, communications manager at American Fork Hospital.

Shorter treatment time, shorter recovery period and fewer side effects are benefits of high-dose rate brachytherapy. Treatment time is typically one to two weeks and can often be a positive alternative to surgery, according to Barney.

American Fork Hospital can provide the therapy thanks to a single $338,000 donation from the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation.

More than 2,900 Utahns died from cancer last year, with approximately 11,050 new cases reported, according to the American Cancer Society. Intermountain Healthcare hopes its new cancer center will help curb these statistics.

Patients previously had to leave Utah County and travel long distances to receive high-dose rate brachytherapy. The distance hindered patients, leading some to choose less effective forms of treatment.

High-dose rate brachytherapy equipment will cost $199,000, and the remaining $139,000 will be used to construct a treatment room with radiation shielding. Director of Cancer Services Craig Nielsen said approximately 30–50 patients per year will benefit from the new addition.

“Not only will more people be able to consider HDR brachytherapy as a treatment option, but it will also be more convenient for patients to receive their treatment closer to home,” Turner said.