Several facility projects are on the drawing board, under construction, in various stages of evaluation, or completed and in operation.
Each future project is assessed for its continuity with the missions of the department. According to Dr. Bonner, “strategic and programmatic decisions will be made with the translational mission in mind.”
Opened in 2010, the Hazelrig-Salter Radiation Oncology Facility is now home to the UAB Department of Radiation Oncology. The new 50,000-square-foot radiation center is among the most technologically advanced radiation centers in the country, with a radiosurgery program that can handle every aspect of treatment planning and delivery. It offers the full spectrum of radiation oncology services through the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The Hazelrig-Salter Radiation Oncology Center is a departure from most academic medical center architecture. It was designed, first and foremost, to be patient-friendly and family-centered. It features glass-walled waiting areas, spacious treatment rooms and illuminated ceiling art designed to relieve patient and caregiver anxiety. There is a children’s play area, plush furniture in the lobby and changing rooms, and a patient-resource library.
The new center has specialty evaluation rooms for pediatric, gynecologic and head-and-neck cancer patients. Spacious treatment rooms feature state-of-the-art linear accelerators, and the imaging suite has a 16-slice computed tomography (CT) scanner to aid in accurate treatment planning. The center is also among the first in the nation to begin using a new radiation-treatment system called TrueBeam, by Varian Medical Systems Inc., to deliver image-guided radiation therapy and radiosurgery with unmet speed and accuracy.
To encourage both partnership and expansion in 2012, UAB Radiation Oncology entered into a new joint venture with Russell Medical Center in Alexander City, Alabama to enhance oncology services in the Lake Martin and surrounding areas. This partnership (UAB Medicine – The Cancer Center at RMC) is the first relationship of its type for both parties.
In order to strengthen and diversify our education efforts, radiation oncology has begun a new series of training programs for stereotactic treatment. Physicians with access to the necessary stereotactic treatment technology are now able to attend a 2.5 day course on the therapy, taught by Drs. Fiveash and Popple. The department also continued its Tours of Excellence program by hosting 12 visiting cancer centers this year. These tours provide visiting cancer centers an opportunity to preview treatment techniques on the TrueBeam linear accelerator. These visitors represent the community hospitals, universities, and medical centers from across the western hemisphere. The Tours and training programs continue to increase our medical presence on a local, regional, and international scale.
The Next Decade and Novel Agents
“The next ten years should be some very exciting times,” stated Dr. Bonner. “There are many new agents in the pipeline now, which are a payoff from the past thirty-plus years of the National Cancer Act legislation. The question now is how do we appropriately integrate the many new agents with conventional therapies? New pathways are being targeted by new agents, and how do we implement them? Not only will the next decade prove exciting, it will likely be the most important decade in cancer therapy history.”