BATON ROUGE, LA, Sept. 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center celebrates its 50th anniversary, the organization is announcing a new, transformational development solidifying Baton Rouge’s position as a regional high-tech hub for cancer treatment and care. Mary Bird Perkins will offer a revolutionary Adaptive MRI Guided Radiation Therapy program in 2022. It will be one of the few US sites and the only Louisiana one. The Cancer Center will acquire an Elekta Unity system. This is a state of the art MR-linac that will be the foundation of the Adaptive MRI–Guided Radiation Therapy Program. This will allow oncologists to target tumors that were previously untreatable with radiation therapy. This technology and the level of treatment are currently offered by only six cancer centers in the United States.
With the image clarity this technology provides through its extremely powerful magnet, radiation oncologists at the Cancer Center will be able to visualize a tumor during treatment and apply radiation dosage in real time – taking personalized cancer care to the next level. This therapy may result in fewer treatment sessions and less side effects in some cases. Patients who are battling at least 40 types of cancer in areas such the prostate, head and neck and liver, lung, abdomen and rectum will be able to access it. The technology will allow for more targeted stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBR) for metastatic cancers. This will improve quality of life and extend life expectancy.
“This is an absolute game-changer for Mary Bird Perkins, our patients and the state of Louisiana,” said Kos Kovtun, M.D. Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, radiation oncologist. “First and foremost, this new technology is going to save lives. Our patients are going to have access to one of the world’s most advanced technologies when it comes to cancer treatment. Through our innovative Adaptive MRI-Guided Radiation Therapy Program, we’ll have the ability to attract and recruit some of the most experienced and gifted oncologists from across the country to join our renowned group of medical and radiation specialists.”
The $10 million plus Adaptive MRI Guided Radiation Therapy program is the result of an investment by the Cancer Center, community donors, and the Art Favre Family. Mary Bird Perkins funds the capital investment necessary to improve the facilities and to expand the clinical resources. The Favre family’s transformational gift, community philanthropy and community philanthropy will help secure the technology. It will also expand the Adaptive MRI Guided Radiation Therapy programmatic. Ultimately, this program will strengthen Mary Bird Perkins’ reputation as the most advanced cancer treatment center in the Gulf South and will propel the organization into the ranks of leading facilities across the nation.
Jonas Fontenot, Ph.D., chief operating officer and chief of medical physics, explained that Mary Bird Perkins is one of a few facilities able to initiate an Adaptive MRI-Guided Radiation Therapy Program due to the Cancer Center’s legacy of expertise in radiation oncology, renowned physicians and its nationally recognized medical physics program, a partnership with Louisiana State University.
“One of the reasons my colleagues and I are here today is because Mary Bird Perkins provides a platform to realize our potential and advance cancer care,” Fontenot stated. “Adaptive MRI-Guide Radiation Therapy is the latest example of Mary Bird Perkins’ ongoing growth and development.”
The Cancer Center announced a new partnership in August with OneOncology, a national platform for independent cancer practices. The partnership will extend Mary Bird Perkins’ access to a broad network of physicians across the country, information technology assets and national buying power.
LSU College of Science Dean Cynthia Peterson, who is also the LSU president’s special advisor on science and has served as a member of the Mary Bird Perkins Board of Directors for six years, said, “We continue to be fortunate and have earned amazing support from philanthropists to advance the Cancer Center’s mission, including the Dr. Charles M. Smith Medical and Health Physics Program, a joint Mary Bird Perkins and LSU initiative. With the potential that comes from a partner such as OneOncology, tremendous growth in medical physics and other clinical programs, Mary Bird Perkins is ensuring its longevity for today and in the future.”
Mary Bird Perkins has grown tremendously over the past decade. The Cancer Center has introduced a variety of new treatments and therapies. The organization has also expanded its reach in the Greater Baton Rouge Region as well as the Bayou Region, Northshore, Delta Region, Southwest Mississippi and the Northshore.
“As the Cancer Center celebrates its 50th year of serving patients across our region, I have witnessed Mary Bird Perkins’ strength and resolve in an ever-changing healthcare industry to remain focused and do more in the fight against cancer,” said Favre, immediate past board chair, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. “The future shines very bright for Mary Bird Perkins, as the team’s focus is always centered on serving patients’ needs. The decades of success can be attributed to the quality of their entire team, the leading-edge expertise of their oncologists and the unbridled passion everyone in the organization has for serving the community. I am confident Mary Bird Perkins’ founders would be extremely proud of the Cancer Center’s position today. It is what inspired my family to invest in this innovative program.”
Construction and remodeling of the facility to house the Elekta Unity will begin in the first quarter 2022. The technology will be installed as soon as June. The Cancer Center plans to start treating patients by the end of summer. This therapy will be available to Mary Bird Perkins clients in all markets it operates.
“There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to prepare for a patient’s radiation treatment,” said Kovtun. “With Adaptive Radiation Therapy, we can make adjustments as the patient is receiving treatment, enhancing its effectiveness and customizing their care. It’ll give us tremendous power to control and eradicate cancer and decrease side effects. We will be working as quickly as possible to bring this technology to Gulf South patients.”
To learn more about the Adaptive MRI-Guided Radiation Therapy Program and stay updated on Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s latest developments, visit the organization’s website at www.marybird.org.
About Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is a regional cancer care organization that has been fighting cancer for 50 years. The cancer care center provides services at nine centers in Baton Rouge. Visit www.marybird.org for more information.
About Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Foundation
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Foundation secures the future of cancer care by building an endowment to provide long-term sustainability – ultimately advancing cancer care for generations to come. For information on the Foundation, visit marybirdfoundation.org.
Scott Miller Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center (225) 978-9934 [email protected]