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This recent, major advancement represents the next dimension in speed and accuracy. Commonly called Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT), it delivers higher radiation doses, more safely, with greater precision and over a much shorter time than possible with conventional radiation. When used with stereotactic radiotherapy, Rapid Arc reduces treatment time from over an hour to usually less than 10 minutes. Patient exposure to radiation is reduced by 30 to 60%. As a result the risk of secondary, treatment-induced tumors, particularly in young patients, is dramatically lower. Rapid Arc is extremely effective for previously inoperable tumors while still sparing normal, healthy tissue and with fewer treatments than ever before. Lifefirst is proud to be one of the first sites in northern Alabama offering this leading edge treatment.



Using specialized treatment systems, a precisely focused radiation beam is used to treat lesions in the brain. Able to treat both malignant and non-cancerous lesions, the overall treatment time is significantly reduced and consists of only one to five treatments given over the course of one to two weeks. It requires high doses of radiation to be given with extreme accuracy. Older, similar systems include the ‘Gamma Knife’ and the ‘Cyber Knife’. SRS is considered safer and more effective than conventional radiation in the treatment of brain tumors.



Similar to SRS but used in locations other than the brain, SBRT is an emerging technology which gives pinpoint, high dose radiation to tumors while sparing surrounding areas. The total treatment course is typically one to five treatments. With SBRT, the tumor can usually be controlled in 90–95% of patients. It is often used in early stage lung cancer but can also be used in prostate or pancreatic cancer as well as liver, spine and adrenal metastases.



Using advanced computer modeling, the dose of radiation is constantly adjusted within a treatment area, thereby shaping the radiation beam around the tumor while sparing healthy tissues. Although it requires precise radiation delivery, IMRT allows us to deliver higher doses with fewer side effects than could ever be achieved with conventional radiation therapy. While it is commonly used in head and neck cancers, it is also extremely effective whenever the tumor is close to other sensitive areas of the body.



Often called ‘Respiratory Gating’, it is frequently used in the treatment of lung cancers which can move as much as one to two inches as a patient inhales and exhales. This technology allows us to track and target a tumor that is moving during treatment. It is particularly useful when treating with high dose Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy. Lifefirst is proud to be the first in Alabama to provide this advanced treatment technique.



This is the next evolution in the ‘precision treatment’ of tumors. Using advanced cone beam CT imaging while the treatment is being given, we are able to actually see and target the tumor during each treatment session. This provides unparalleled accuracy which improves our cure rates and is particularly critical when treating a tumor located near sensitive structures in the body.



Employing the latest generation treatment planning computers, we are able to combine images from different xrays done at different times, including PET, CT and MRI. Such technology allows us to precisely identify the location of the tumor and discern between noncancerous, inflammatory tissues and those that contain a tumor mass. Lifefirst is only the second facility in the Southeast to offer this technology to our patients.



Helping to relieve a patient’s concerns of claustrophobia, the CT/RT scanner is a third larger than a conventional CT scanner. The Wide Bore CT/RT scanner is a fully diagnostic scanner that is also able to provide the necessary imaging for the 4-Dimensional Radiotherapy. We are proud to offer this diagnostic facility, certified through rigorous testing by the American College of Radiology.



Similar to HDR, a low dose rate implant is placed using needles or catheters. Widely used for cervical and endometrial cancer, the implant is removed after a three to four day inpatient treatment. For prostate cancer, the LDR implant is left permanently within the body. The prostate implant is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure with a quick recovery. Although the implant is permanent, the radiation wears off within a couple of months. The effects of the radiation are limited to a small area immediately surrounding the implant. With over ten years of prostate implant experience, we utilize specialized planning computers which are taken into the operating room with us. This “real-time planning” offers a level of accuracy far beyond the older pre-planning computer modules.



Often termed ‘targeted therapy’ or ‘immunotherapy’, we are able to use low level radioactive sources that are ingested or injected into the human body. These agents specifically target and attack the tumor cells. While commonly used in the treatment of thyroid cancer, it can also be used in advanced prostate cancer and lymphomas. This is a rapidly growing field as the creation of new antibodies that are able to attack specific tumor cells has been an area of intense research.



At Lifefirst we provide a truly unique blend of evidence-based, complementary and integrative medicine. With a focus on nutrition, exercise, counseling and even medical massage therapy, we at Lifefirst care for the whole patient, mind, body, and spirit. The center has rotating art exhibits of a wide variety of pieces compiled from nationally known artists, local favorites and local high school students.

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