By KAREN LA PIERRE

klapierre@dailynews.net

The Hays Medical Center's Dreiling/Schmidt Cancer Institute announced Friday some cancer patients in need of radiation treatment will soon have a local option for some of the most advanced treatment available.

The institute has received $1.4 million of the $3 million needed to purchase a new linear accelerator with stereostatic body radiation therapy capability.

Dr. Babu Prasad, local radiation oncologist, explained the new technology. Instead of six to nine weeks of daily traditional radiation treatment, patients only need three to five treatments lasting one week.

"We needed this very much," Prasad said. "The hospital needed it, and the community of northwest Kansas needed this technology.

"This technology has brought a paradigm shift in the practice of radiation oncology," in 120 years, Prasad said.

The standard treatment for radiation was small doses during a two-month period. The new treatment is highly targeted radiation.

Large doses target a well-defined tumor for three to five treatments with less damage to surrounding tissue. Conventional radiation can still be done on those patients who do not qualify for SBRT.

"Normal tissue is spared," Prasad said.

However, it cannot be used on every patient and is designed for cancer with small tumors.

"It shortens treatment to a week," said Dr. John Jeter, president of HaysMed. "Studies show it may be more effective," than the traditional therapy.

The SBRT will enhance the quality of life for patients.

"It's a big deal," Jeter said. "Anybody who has a job, they can just take a week off and get it done."

As far as he knew, the closest treatment centers with similar technology were Denver, Wichita or Kansas City.

Only 10 percent of radiation cancer treatment centers nationally have this or similar technology, Jeter estimated.

The equipment will be available in early 2015. The radiation department will be shut down in February for installation.

"Patients with immediate needs will be sent to other centers," during that time, Prasad said.

A new concrete floor will have to be poured to hold the base. Prasad said it will take a few weeks after that to install, and a few more for the machine to be calibrated and tested.

They anticipate an April opening.

The Hadley Foundation made a $1 million donation, which made the purchase possible. The HaysMed Foundation has raised a total $1.4 million for the campaign.

The fundraising campaign, called "Envision the Future Without Cancer," began in the spring.

"I want to take you back to last May," said Ruth Heffel, executive director of the HaysMed Foundation.

It was then announced the 10-year-old linear accelerator needed to be replaced for more advanced equipment.

"We thank the Hadley Foundation for this incredible gift to our community," Jeter said.

"We were sold immediately," on this equipment, said Joe Jeter, director of the Hadley Foundation.

The Hadley Foundation was established in 1991 to provide support for HaysMed. The funds come from the estate of the late Mark Hadley. The foundation is governed by a board of seven community volunteers.

During the past five years, the Hadley Foundation has given $6 million to the hospital.