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August 14, 2014 06:19 PM

New Technology Helps Cancer Patients

Sioux Falls, SD

Dick Ericsson was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year. Yet it wasn't that much of a surprise.

"I have had prostate cancer in my family, so I was monitoring that," Dick Ericsson said.

He had surgery last October, but his fight still isn't over. Only now he has a new weapon in the fight.

"Mr. Ericsson has prostate cancer and has developed recurring disease. So we are treating his prostate bed with the goal of trying to cure him and so the Versa HD is a perfect machine. It can deliver his treatment extremely very conformally, very accurately, very precisely and very quickly," Radiation Oncologist, Dr. James Simon said.

"Even though you are just hoping that you won't have any follow-up care, or any treatments, when I found out that I did I was optimistic that the doctors that do it would find a treatment that would be good for me and I think they're doing that," Ericsson said.

Ericsson receives radiation treatments five days a week for seven and a half weeks.

"I'm not a morning person but I've been getting up every day at 6 a.m. and making a trip and the staff here is incredibly professional, compassionate and they are the best," Ericsson said. 

With this new technology, not only is treatment time reduced, but there are also fewer side effects.

"You can deliver a similar form of therapy from 15 years ago, but 15 years ago you would have much more bladder, much more rectum and much more soft tissue in the fields which causes a lot of problems to the patient. Radiation is as effective as it was then it's just that the patients have much less side effects then they did, which translates into a much better quality of life," Simon said.

"I've had 23 treatments out of 37 and I have no skin irritation what so ever," Ericsson said.

Most importantly, doctors hope this treatment will also increase Ericsson's odds of being cured.

"They say for men it's not a question of if you're going to get prostate cancer, it's a question of when and I was one of the lucky ones that I got it earlier, so I am just dealing with it," Ericsson said.

The pricetag for the Versa HD machine is more than $3 million. Avera received a grant from the Leona Helmsley Charitable Trust which picked up the entire tab.

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