Watertown's Walker Center for Cancer Care adds technology to provide faster access to radiation treatment

Dec. 30—WATERTOWN — Samaritan Health's Walker Center for Cancer Care announced Thursday that it has added technology that will hasten access to cancer treatment.

The center said in a statement that it has opened a second linear accelerator for its radiation oncology services which will ensure that radiation therapy for patients with high acuity lesions, such as those causing pain, or pressing on critical body structures, or blocking airways or blood flow, among other issues requiring urgent care, can start within a matter of days rather than weeks.

"The opening of a second linear accelerator (LINAC) will increase patient access to radiation oncology treatments in our region," Dr. Justin D. Budnik, radiation oncologist at the center, said in the statement. "The need for a second LINAC has been driven by unprecedented growth in the practice here at the Walker Center for Cancer Care and will ensure that all patients who are in need of radiotherapy will have timely access to treatment, whatever their diagnosis is."

According to the center, its number of patient radiation treatments has increased from 5,702 in 2020 to 7,102 in 2022, and that figure is expected to increase in 2023.

A linear accelerator offers both image-guided radiation therapy and intensity modulated radiation therapy. IMRT delivers high doses of radiation directly to the targeted cancer cells, while IGRT makes that treatment even more accurate.

With the opening of a second linear accelerator, the center says patients will experience less time waiting from their first visit to the start of treatment, which is critical in cancer care.

"Our hope is that with two LINACS in service we will be able to better meet the needs of our community, and that treatment outcomes and patient satisfaction with the care furnished at our center will improve as a result," Dr. Budnik said.