The Edge® Radiosurgery System for Cancer Treatment

How it works:

The Edge® radiosurgery system opens the door for a non-invasive alternative to conventional surgery. With an eye toward improving treatment ease and convenience, patients can expect a more comfortable experience because the procedure is non-invasive with no incision needed. Normally an outpatient procedure, Edge treatments are typically completed within the same week taking only 1 – 5 sessions. Each session lasts less than an hour, which helps patients to quickly get in and out of treatment, reducing hospital stays and allowing them to resume their lives.

With the Edge radiosurgery system, a wide range of tumors that are typically difficult to reach with traditional surgery can be targeted and treated with power and precision. The Edge system works by delivering large, targeted doses of radiation to obliterate cancer cells. To accurately deliver the recommended amount of radiation, the beam treats each part of the tumor from many different angles. Using precise beam sculpting and a real-time tracking system, clinicians are able to deliver high radiation doses to destroy the tumor while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

The Edge Difference

The Edge® radiosurgery system offers a new line of defense in the fight against cancer. Using advanced cancer treatment technology, the Edge® system offers patients a fast, effective surgical option for treating tumors without incisions or the need for overnight hospital stays. It may be used to treat tumors found in the lung, prostate, brain, spine and other indications throughout the body. The Edge Radiosurgery system uses a real-time tumor tracking system so clinicians can detect slight tumor movement, thus potentially minimizing the radiation dose to surrounding healthy tissue.

Why choose the Edge Radiosurgery system:

  • Edge’s knife-like beam provides surgeons with the agility to treat tumors that are typically difficult to reach surgically.
  • Edge protects surrounding healthy tissue by using advanced motion management techniques that help detect even slight tumor movement.
  • Edge patients are able to continue with their daily lives because treatment sessions typically last less than an hour, and require neither hospital stays nor incisions.


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With Early Detection, Prostate Cancer Is Treatable

For men approaching the age of 40, as well as those who have already crossed that milestone, prostate cancer is one of the most talked-about health issues today. Prostate cancer is diagnosed more frequently than skin cancer and is second only to lung cancer in leading causes of cancer death in men. And according to a recent study from Northwestern University, more men than ever before are being diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer, where the cancer has spread to another place in the body, speaking to a need for “nationwide refinement” around prostate screenings and treatments.

Stark as these numbers may be, don't let such information frighten you. Prostate cancer is not only common, it’s also treatable with an early diagnosis.

Who Is at Risk for Prostate Cancer?

The average age for a prostate cancer diagnosis in men is 66 years old, and it is not seen typically before the age of 40. It should be noted, however, that African-American men represent a high-risk group for prostate cancer and are 1.6 times more likely to receive such a diagnosis than a Caucasian male. Also, they are more likely to develop prostate cancer at a younger age, with a higher rate of mortality.

While there are different schools of thought around why African-American men are more prone to prostate cancer, including differences in tissue genetics, nothing has been proven with any certainty to date.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

The mortality rate for prostate cancer is approximately one in 39 men, which speaks to the fact that treatment of the disease at an early stage can prevent prostate-cancer related death. Various treatment options exist, including surgical removal of the prostate (prostatectomy), radiation therapy or cryotherapy.  These options will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary team with expertise in each modality, with the choice of treatment being individualized for each patient’s specific case. 

No matter the course chosen, early detection is the key to reducing the risk of death from prostate cancer. Once it has spread to a patient’s lymph nodes or bones, the cancer becomes more difficult to treat. (Although in those cases, chemotherapy and hormone therapy may still be able to help extend the life of a patient.)

It’s Treatable When Caught Early

Since early detection is so critical to the treatment of prostate cancer, one of the most common questions men have is when - or how often - they should be screened. Screening options include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test.

If you’re in a high-risk group - either due to age, family history or other factors - you should speak with your doctor about what is best for you, as there is uncertainty around whether the risk of unnecessary treatment is outweighed by the potential benefits of screening.

Life After Prostate Cancer

Men who undergo successful treatment for their prostate cancer can be left with some degree of erectile dysfunction or problems with urination. The good news is that treatments exist for these problems and can help prostate cancer survivors maintain fulfilling, active lives with maintained, positive outcomes for their urinary and sexual health.

While the prospect of a prostate cancer diagnosis can be stressful, know that it is common and treatable. So with early detection, you can spend more time being focused on treatment and recovery.

Have questions?

We are here to help! If you have any questions about MedStar Washington Hospital Center, call us at 202-877-3627.

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A Breast Cancer Diagnosis: It Takes Your Breath Away

Breast Cancer Can Affect Anyone 

My name is Heidi Kirby. (Photo L to R:  Dr. Sandra Swain, former medical director of Washington Cancer Institute and current Associate Dean for Research Development at Georgetown University Medical Center and Heidi)  I am young. I am healthy. I have no family history of breast cancer, yet, somehow I found myself with the phone against my ear, being told that's what I had. For anyone touched by this disease, you know how powerless you can feel.  For anyone being told they have cancer, it takes your breath away.

My story is nothing special.  In fact, my story happens every day and can happen to anyone at any age. When I first felt something different in 2014, I was preparing to run in the annual Race to Beat Cancer 5K, sponsored by my former employer, The Four Seasons Hotel Washington, D.C. All the proceeds benefit cancer research at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. I was focused on the run, therefore not that concerned. But when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October of that year, I went from denial to anger and back to denial over and over. During this stressful period, I reached out to my close work family, and because of their long-standing relationship with the Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, I was put in touch with an oncologist so that I could start treatment right away. The wonderful doctors and medical professionals were determined to make me well. I'm happy to say that I am now cancer free and I know that my risk of recurrence is low.

Advances in Breast Cancer Treatment

I'm constantly amazed by the advances in cancer research, science and technology. I recently learned the Washington Cancer Institute at the Hospital Center offers intraoperative radiation therapy for a select group of breast cancer patients with small tumors, in which a single dose of radiation is delivered after lumpectomy, as opposed to standard radiation treatment over several weeks. In addition, physicians are studying chemotherapy–free options for metastatic breast cancer patients. Progress like this is possible thanks in large part to public and private donations.

I never imagined having to ask so many people to help me.  I never thought I would celebrate a genetic test result. Of course, I never thought I would need a genetic test at all. The simple part of my story is this: I'm going to live and love longer because so many people who I’ll never meet selflessly gave their time and resources - to beat this disease.

Contribute to Breast Cancer Research

I will continue to support the annual Race to Beat Cancer 5K, and the ongoing fundraising efforts of  the wonderful volunteers and donors who support cancer research at the Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. I urge everyone to sign up for this year’s race.  There’s also the annual Drive Four the Cure Golf Classic at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, which is another opportunity to support the Washington Cancer Institute's cause. Together, we must continue to fight this disease so that we give friends, family, colleagues and many others the same opportunity! 


Have any questions?

We are here to help! If you have any questions about the Washington Cancer Institute or cancer treatments at MedStar Washington Hospital Center Call us at 202-877-3627.

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Staying Centered Throughout Cancer Treatment

Yoga Instructor Uses Inner Strength to Aid in Recovery during Cancer Treatment

Calm and centered yoga instructor Youngsun Switzer takes pride in her pursuit of a healthy life. Forty minute walks, meditation,yoga practice and body cleansing liquids are her daily routine. In February 2015, Youngsun Switzer’s reality shifted when the Springfield, Va., woman—who never took an aspirin— was beginning a months-long fight against a rare form
of cancer.

“I literally went to sleep without a problem and woke with a lump the size of a golf ball on my shoulder,” Youngsun says. “At first I thought I injured myself, but when it didn’t go away, I went to see my doctor. He sent me for a CT and MRI, which indicated the lump was a sarcoma. It simply blew my mind.”

Sarcoma is a deadly form of cancer that, left untreated, can rapidly grow and spread. Highly specialized, intensive care is needed as part f the cancer treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcome. Youngsun didn’t waste time dwelling on the negative. Instead, research took her to Robert Henshaw, MD, an internationally respected sarcoma expert close to home at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Internationally Recognized Expertise

Dr. Henshaw, an orthopaedic oncologist, leads the hospital’s team of specialists who have expertise treating musculoskeletal cancers, including rare sarcomas.

“These tumors arise in soft tissue, such as nerves, muscles and tendons,” Dr. Henshaw explains. “They are uncommon, less than 1 percent of all cancers, or about 12,000 people in the U.S. annually. Only 2,500 people a year have the specific type of tumor Youngsun had. Very few involve the shoulder. We see more than 750 patients with sarcomas every year, with more than 350 cases treated at Washington Cancer Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Our group is one of the largest practices of its kind in the country.”

Interdisciplinary Team Approach to Care

Youngsun’s sarcoma developed in her shoulder muscle and had spread to her collarbone. Recommendations for her cancer treatment were made by a team of medical oncologists, interventional radiologists, diagnostic imaging experts, pathologists and surgeons who regularly gather to discuss cases and develop treatment plans. “This strong interdisciplinary clinical approach toward cancer treatment gives patients a real advantage,” says Dr. Henshaw. “For Youngsun, we recommended chemotherapy first to shrink the tumor, which helps make the subsequent
surgery more successful. This is followed by radiation.”

In July, Dr. Henshaw removed the tumor and part of her collarbone using a sophisticated technique to re-route muscles and ensure she wouldn’t lose any range of motion.

“I admit it hasn’t been easy,” says Youngsun. “But I’ve had the strong support of my husband, Warren, my children and friends. I also tried very hard to continue my daily meditation and keep up my normal routine.”

“I was back to yoga within weeks,” a happy Youngsun says. “And in October, I took a break from radiation cancer treatment to attend my daughter’s dream wedding in Majorca, Spain. Two weeks later, my husband and I celebrated the completion of my therapy!” She and her husband are building a home in North Carolina, and she hopes to set up a yoga class specifically geared to cancer patients at a nearby hospital.

“I’m so grateful to Dr. Henshaw and the entire team,” she says. “I hope to inspire others to seek help when they think something may be wrong, and understand with the right treatment, they can have a happily ever after.”

Have Any Questions?

We're here to help! Contact us for more information about this and other cancer treatment. Call us at 202-877-3627.

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