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Hope Fuels the Future, Says Local Radiation Oncologist

Publication: Ridglea Shopping News

By Kay Pirtle, editor

Breast cancer is the second deadliest cancer among Texas women," Kathleen L. Shide, M.D. said. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, Dr. Shide, a specialist in radiation oncology for adults, reminds us that "Early detection and education encourages women to take the proper steps to save their own lives."

"Cancers are complex," said Dr. Shide from her practice at Texas Oncology Fort Worth 1450 8th Avenue. "Therapies have become very targeted so we have more personalized medicine. More personalized medicine gives a better outcome."

Most of us know the risk factors that cannot be changed such as age, race, family history, personal health history, early menstruation and late menopause (after 55). Cancer grows when a cell's DNA is damaged, but why or how that DNA becomes damaged is still unknown. It could be genetic or environmental, or in most cases, a combination of the two.

The environmental and lifestyle risk factors are a sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption and combined hormone replacement therapy. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 60-70 percent of people with breast cancer have no connection to these risk factors, and other people with risk factors will never develop cancer. Also, the foundation dispels myths that breast cancer is caused by wearing underwire bras, implants, deodorants, antiperspirants, mammograms, caffeine, plastic food serving items, microwaves, or cell phones. Or, that it's contagious; you can't contract cancer from a person who has the disease.

"Fort Worth is really great because it has a multi-disciplinary coordinated approach to the cancers," said Dr. Shide, who is certified by the American Board of Radiology in radiation oncology. It takes a "village" of medical specialists to treat cancer. Texas Oncology says, cancer is not one disease, but many diseases that occur in different areas of the body. Each type of cancer is characterized by the uncontrollable growth of cells. Under normal conditions, cell reproduction is carefully controlled by the body. However, these controls can malfunction, resulting in abnormal cell growth and the development of a lump, mass or tumor. Some cancers involving the blood and blood-forming organs do not form tumors but circulate through other tissues where they grow.

Because there are so many variables, different types of treatments are required for each patient and no singe cancer treatment is right for everyone. That is why Dr. Shide and the "village" of medical teams at Texas Oncology customize cancer treatment plans to meet each patient's specific condition and requirements.

"The Radiation Oncologist's team includes nurses, medical physicists, dosimetrists, and radiation therapists, each of whom participate in the patient's radiation treatment care, planning and delivery," stated Jeff Bernard, practice administrator, Texas Oncology Fort Worth. "In addition, there are ancillary staff such as social workers, dietitians, patient service representatives and other office personnel that are all dedicated to providing the best support possible for the patients."

"We're getting smarter about how to help people with the next phase after their treatment phase," explained Dr. Shide. "The medical team is all talking in the same room, looking at all aspects and coming up with the best plan of treatment and recovery for the patient. In fact, the entire oncology world is moving toward recovery and survivorship of a fulfilled life."

The next phase involves healthy living, exercise, healthy diet, and following up with the doctor. "Oncology patients are amazingly strong individuals who have a good sense of who they are and work hard at their treatment," said Dr. Shide. "Each patient has a unique set of values and preferences. Cancer patients are real teachers. Each has an intuitiveness about what life is really about. I have a wonderful relationships with my patients. As caregivers we need to be respective and responsive to what the patients want and need. It's a partnership where the patient takes an active role in his or her own healthcare."

"Here at Texas Oncology Fort Worth, we have access to the latest advancements in therapy, clinical research and technology," said Dr. Shide. "Also, we're committed to quality, safety and cost effectiveness of cancer care."

For more information, call Texas Oncology at  817-923-7393.

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