The Times West Virginian

October 1, 2013

Renovated Fairmont Regional Cancer Center reopens today

By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — "You can get better cancer treatment right here in Fairmont.”

After being purchased by WVU Hospitals and closed for three months, the Fairmont Regional Cancer Center is opening its doors again today.

The center will treat “all cancers in patients of all ages,” said Ash Broadwater, director of radiation oncology at WVU Hospitals.

The facility was purchased from a private physician in May for $14 million, which included renovations and new equipment. The star of the center is the Clinac IX barium linear accelerator. The streamlined, high-performance machine delivers precise, high-energy X-rays to tumors, promising more accurate and speedier treatment time.

“We are able to do imaging before treating the patients,” Broadwater said, “to make sure the tumor is exactly where it needs to be by making adjustments to the patient’s position. It is a very, very precise, cutting-edge piece of equipment. It rivals what we have at WVU Hospitals in Morgantown.”

This means patients no longer need to make the trip up the interstate to receive comparable radiation treatment.

“It is the same level of care. There is nothing patients won’t have by staying here at home,” Broadwater said.

WVU Hospitals purchased the center “to make sure patients in Marion County continue to have radiation therapy services as part of their cancer patient care,” he said. “Patients here and in surrounding counties won’t lose the ability to have services close to them.”

The state-of-the-art equipment uses onboard imaging and a multileaf collimator to provide conformal shaping of radiotherapy treatment beams.

“We’re able to image that patient before we even treat them,” he said. “The beam of radiation is on the tumor itself and not radiating the surrounding tissue, where a lot of times side effects came into play. In the old days, you had large fields and part of the field was shaped by a lead block.

“We are able to very precisely shape the radiation field and deliver a very high dose of radiation in a very precise area with millimeter accuracy. We couldn’t do that several years ago.

“Each ‘leaf’ has the ability to move in and out to shape the radiation beam to conform with the shape of the tumor.”

Modifications included installing 75,000 pounds of lead sheeting in the room that houses the linear accelerator, Broadwater said.

“One of the really big differences between this and the equipment that was in this center previously is we can do something called onboard imaging,” said Dr. Geraldine Jacobson, chairwoman of the department of radiation at WVUH.

“So right before the patient is treated, we can see their cancer like with a CT scan and be sure we are treating the patient very accurately and precisely,” she said. “It is amazing technology. Before we treat the tumor, we can see it in the body and make sure we’re treating it very precisely. This was not available before.

“We can avoid things we don’t want to treat, like spinal cords.”

Another benefit is that treatment is now speedier than before, she added.

“It can do complex treatments in a matter of minutes.”

“Our goal from day one was to keep state-of-the-art radiation oncology in Marion County,” Broadwater said.

Patients have already been scheduled for treatment, he added.

An open house is planned in the next two or three weeks, he said.

The former FRCC employees joined the staff of the WVU Hospitals Radiation Oncology Department.

WVU Hospitals purchased the FRCC for $14 million, including $3 million for upgrade costs. The state’s Health Care Authority approved WVU Hospitals’ Certificate of Need to purchase the center on April 26.

The Fairmont center now becomes a part of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, West Virginia’s premier cancer facility with a national reputation of excellence in cancer treatment, prevention and research.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 304-366-9999.

Email Debra Minor Wilson at