Exciting Updates from Riverside Cancer Institute

Expert care close to home is one of Riverside Cancer Institute’s primary goals. The organization aims to ensure community members don’t have to travel great distances to receive the life-changing care they need and deserve.

Kirstin Carson, Riverside’s Director of Oncology and Infusion Services, shares information about key offerings—from advanced radiation

Kirstin Carson, RN, MSN, BSN

therapy technology to the people working “behind the scenes.”

Advanced Technologies Improve Patient Outcomes

One new piece of technology is the TrueBeam linear accelerator, which Carson describes as the latest and greatest in the world of radiation oncology. This technology allows oncologists to treat tumors with pinpoint accuracy, sparing healthy tissues and organs from receiving radiation dosing. “Radiation can often kill those tissues, so we want to spare as much good, healthy tissue as we can,” she states.

TrueBeam also enables oncologists to treat multiple tumor sites, all at one time. Previously, patients would need to have separate treatments—so this technology cuts down on both the patients’ and oncologists’ time investment.

For breast cancer patients or chest wall patients, another new technology called Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH) allows patients to receive the beam of the radiation only when the they are holding their breath. “By doing this, we can avoid that heart muscle and treat just what we need to treat on the tumor site,” adds Carson.

Having TrueBeam opens up a second machine to focus on special procedures, such as stereotactic surgeries of the brain and lung. Many facilities don’t have this capability, especially in the Riverside community.

“We’re very lucky to be able to do these non-invasive surgeries in collaboration with our neurosurgeons. And, we can spare the areas of the brain from being damaged by radiation. In the past, we’ve had to do whole brain radiation, which then would impact the entire brain. Now, we can just pinpoint treat those brain tumors without having to surgically intervene,” shares Carson. “You can imagine how great this is for our community. We’re extremely lucky to have these technologies. They are truly state-of-the-art.”

Expert Teams Are Dedicated to All-Encompassing Patient Care

Another benefit the Riverside Cancer Institute offers is the diverse, robust set of teams available. For example, social workers are onsite to help with various aspects of cancer treatment—including home nursing care, oxygen, assistive devices, and transportation to appointments.

“Our social workers meet with all of these patients and help coordinate that care, ensuring there are minimal gaps in their needs,” assures Carson. “They also assist patients in assistance programs available for drug companies, enrolling them in Medicare and Medicaid, applying for financial assistance through Riverside.”

Additional advantages include three medical oncologists, a radiation-oncologist, two medical oncology nurse practitioners, a radiation nurse practitioner, onsite pharmacy, dietician, financial counselor, and pastoral care. “This is new for 2024, and we’re very excited to have it,” notes Carson. “We’ve had a great response from our patients on the pastoral care and the support they get from our pastor for mental health, as well as spiritual health, while navigating their journey.”

Comprehensive Care, Close to Home

Riverside Cancer Institute prides itself on not just meeting but exceeding standards of care for cancer patients. The organization follows national protocols for cancer treatment, including guidelines set forth by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).

“I think there’s a huge misconception that you can receive better treatments if you go to an academic center in Chicago. And yes, at times, there are treatments we can’t provide within our community, but we then refer out those cases,” explains Carson. “We’ll often have patients seek second opinions for their treatments in the Chicagoland area, and they are told they would be getting the exact same treatment that Riverside is prescribing. You don’t have to travel far from home to receive the best cancer care.”

For more information on the Riverside Cancer Institute click here.