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Penn State Health St. Joseph breaks ground on $5.5 million Cancer Center expansion

A new $5.5 million addition to the Penn State Health St. Joseph Cancer Center to open by year's end will offer people in the Berks region faster, more targeted radiation treatments close to home.

Penn State Health St. Joseph leaders and staff and Penn State Health executives broke ground on the project today in Bern Township, Pa.

Highlights of the expansion include a 2,400-square-foot addition to accommodate a growing patient base, as well as a new, state-of-the-art TrueBeam linear accelerator. This sophisticated technology will offer cancer patients faster, more targeted radiation treatment that is more comfortable, more precise and causes fewer side effects.

“It's the most advanced radiation treatment technology available,” says Dr. Navesh Sharma, associate professor of radiology and chief of radiation oncology for the St. Joseph Cancer Center. “This investment enables us to offer our patients the full scope of radiation oncology services right here in the Berks region.”

St. Joseph Cancer Center provides state-of-the-art cancer treatment, including genetic education, counseling and testing for people at high cancer risk, minimally invasive internal radiation therapy for liver tumors and cutting-edge clinical trials research for new cancer treatments.

The hallmark of the TrueBeam linear accelerator technology is a powerful combination of 2D, 3D and 4D imaging that is updated   every 10 milliseconds, monitors a patient's breathing and body movement and permits faster, more potent radiation doses directly to a tumor site without damage to surrounding tissue or nearby organs. St. Joseph Cancer physicians can tailor individualized treatment plans much more precisely, which drastically reduces treatment time for patients. Treatments also can be delivered more efficiently in fewer—and shorter—treatment sessions.

“With this TrueBeam technology, we have some extremely sophisticated tumor tracking and imaging capabilities,” says Karen Wagner, St. Joseph's director of oncology services. “The real value of this technology is that it will enable St. Joseph to offer patients options that were previously unavailable here.”

Dr. Marc Rovito, assistant professor of medicine and medical director of St. Joseph Cancer Center, notes that Penn State Health's investment in the Berks County site illustrates its commitment to providing the best of care to patients.

“Currently, these patients have to go elsewhere for the TrueBeam treatment option, but they will not in the future,” Rovito said. “Through Penn State Health providers, cancer patients will have access to the incredible resources of a renowned university teaching and research hospital while receiving high-quality care close to home.”

Rovito noted that as a member of Penn State Health, patients at St. Joseph with especially complex needs have expedited access to the specialists of the Penn State Cancer Institute in Hershey, Pa.

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