WATERLOO – One of the latest breakthroughs in cancer care has come to Cedar Valley and is next to a cornfield off Ridgeway Avenue.
On Wednesday, Dr. David Congdon, founder of the Cedar Valley Skin Cancer Center, announced the introduction of superficial image-guided radiation therapy (SRT), becoming the first clinic in the state to use the method on people.
Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart attended the unveiling and made some comments, as did US Senator Chuck Grassley, who spoke via video message. Representatives from the offices of Senator Joni Ernst and Representative Ashley Hinson were also present.
According to Congdon, the therapy is used to treat non-melanoma skin cancer — or basal and squamous cell carcinomas — offering them a less invasive alternative to surgery.
“There’s no blood, no pain, no surgical scars,” Congdon said. Patients like it because they can get back to work right away, especially my farmers – they don’t want to have a week off or a week and a half off because of recovery – so that’s a big plus for patients because there is virtually no recovery with this treatment.
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It is estimated that more than 32,000 people will be diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer in Iowa in 2022. Congdon will help fight the disease using the new method in three locations.
There are three Sensus SRT-100 Vision devices at the Waterloo Clinic, 2515 Cyclone Drive, Suite B. Additional units at his clinics at 1253 W. Fourth St. SW, Waverly and 1600 First St. E., Independence are expected to be put into service next week.
Congdon explained that patients receiving image-guided SRT treatment come several times a week for several weeks for sessions that last about 15 minutes. SRT relies on ultrasound imaging to locate cancer cells in the body and determine their depth. X-rays are then used to focus on and eliminate the cells.
According to a study published in “Oncology and Therapy”, SRT had a 99.3% success rate.
The SRT treatment, Congdon said, is superficial and only penetrates a few millimeters into the skin. In cases where it is deeper, it may be necessary to remove layers of skin in the treatment area.
However, he cautioned that there are still scenarios where surgery might be the recommended course of action. For example, if the cancer is growing rapidly, the scalpel may need to be used.
“Let’s say someone comes along and they’ve gone from a pencil head to this big in two weeks,” Congdon said, pointing to a golf ball-sized circle with his fingers. “I wouldn’t treat them with that.”
But Congdon said such cases are rare and about 90% of cancer patients they see in their office will be able to use SRT and its benefits.
“It’s painless, it’s easy, but the results are better,” Congdon said.