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More than 7,000 Montanans are estimated to be diagnosed with cancer in 2022, and roughly half of those patients will require radiation therapy. Radiotherapy is one of the three primary ways to treat cancer, along with surgery and chemotherapy.

“Whether a patient needs radiation therapy or not depends on many factors, such as the specific type of cancer, the location of the cancer, and the stage of the cancer. Radiation therapy is frequently used alone to treat and cure cancers, but is also used before or after surgery, before or after chemotherapy, or even together with chemotherapy at the same time,” says Logan Health Radiation Oncologist Justin Linam, MD. “How and when we use radiation therapy is very evidence-based, depending on what clinical trials have shown to be the best treatment or combination of treatments for a specific situation.”

Because radiation therapy requires specialized equipment and technology, Logan Health Radiation Oncology is continually implementing software and hardware upgrades to keep pace with ever-evolving technological innovations. Most recently, Jeffrey Eshleman, MD, Medical Director of Logan Health Radiation Oncology, oversaw the purchase and installation of a state-of-the-art linear accelerator, the device that is most commonly used to deliver external beam radiation treatments. The new equipment helps optimize treatment planning and delivery processes, which results in very accurate, highly conformal, and faster radiation treatments. “Because technology continues to expand at a tremendous pace, Logan Health has committed to making the investments necessary to continue to offer our community the most comprehensive and advanced radiation treatment options with these upgrades in our field,” says Dr. Eshleman.

However, new treatment technology is not the only enhancement Logan Health’s radiation oncology patients will see. Research has shown that specialized décor and lighting in radiation therapy treatment environments can enhance patient relaxation, improve clinical outcomes (reducing stress and anxiety), reduce claustrophobia in the enclosed interiors and improve patient satisfaction. Thanks to funding from community donors to the Logan Health Foundation, Dr. Eshleman and his team selected new murals and virtual skylights for installation. The murals, which cover the walls leading to the treatment room, depict nature scenes from Glacier National Park, mimicking a drive on Going to the Sun road. The virtual skylights achieve a three-dimensional effect on a two-dimensional plane, creating the illusion of a bright blue sky and floating clouds, providing patients with a visual connection to the open sky.

In addition, new safety and quality measures were implemented, including palm-scanning identification technology.  Patients can simply swipe their palm on the reader, and their record and treatment plan is automatically loaded. This is not only a highly secure method of patient identification, but it also streamlines the preparation process.

“We’re very excited to introduce these improvements to help patients feel more comfortable and at ease during their treatments,” said Dr. Linam. “Our patients deserve nothing less.”