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Claxton-Hepburn launches fundraising campaign for Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center

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OGDENSBURG — A few months after Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center broke ground on a $4.7 million addition to the Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center, the Claxton-Hepburn Foundation is undertaking a major fundraising campaign to support the center.

The addition will house a Trilogy linear accelerator that will give the cancer treatment center the capability to target specific cancer cells and deliver high doses of radiation without damaging nearby healthy cells.

With the Trilogy linear accelerator, doctors and hospital officials hope to cut the amount of time cancer patients spend receiving radiation treatment.

According to Dr. John W. Gebert, radiation oncologist at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, the Trilogy accelerator has the ability to deliver a very concentrated amount of radiation to a spot of any size, even half the thickness of a dime.

“Using three-dimensional imaging and localization techniques, physicians determine the exact coordinates of the tumor and provide the most focused and effective treatment,” Dr. Gebert said. “The result of this technology is that less of the surrounding tissue is affected by the radiation treatment, allowing for treatment of tumors that may be in sensitive areas such as the lungs and the brain.”

Another benefit of the technology is that it significantly shortens treatment sessions. Jerry Sheppard, director of the Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center, said treatment could be cut from 45 days to about five days in some cases.

“It takes the financial burden off the patient, who regularly drives back and forth for treatment,” Mr. Sheppard said. “It also gives them a more precise treatment so that the actual treatment time is quicker.”

Mr. Sheppard said the facility is the only cancer treatment center north of Syracuse and west of Burlington, Vt., to offer such precise treatment.

When it is completed, the 3,264-square-foot addition will feature a new “bunker” with 8-foot-thick concrete walls that prevent unintended radiation exposure from cancer treatments.

Claxton-Hepburn spokeswoman Laura C. Shea said officials expect the project to be completed in early May.

“It allows us to keep people closer to home, allows us to treat more types of cancer and we are also able to offer a shorter treatment schedule, a great advantage for patients,” Mrs. Shea said Friday. “We also have a patient advocator that will help them through the entire process.”

To donate to the foundation, call 393-9175 or visit www.claxtonhepburn.org and click the “Foundation” tab at the top of the page.

The Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center marks its 20th anniversary this year.

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