Cervical Cancer Awareness Month Highlights Importance of Early Detection

Each January, Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is observed. While this disease claims the lives of close to 5,000 women a year, the number of deaths has dropped significantly since 1955 because of early detection techniques. In fact, cervical cancer is considered one of the great success stories in cancer research because it is now known what causes it, the risk factors for it, and that early detection and prevention efforts potentially could eradicate it.

Cervical cancer grows slowly, so with appropriate screening, most women who develop it — or are on the path to developing it — can be easily diagnosed and hopefully cured. However, because cervical cancer often have no signs or symptoms, it is important that woman have regular Pap tests. Sadly, too often women will look after others at their own expense, putting off a Pap test for years, or even decades, when early detection is crucial to successful treatment. When symptoms do occur, it is often when the cancer is further along and has spread to nearby areas.

It is important to note that a Pap test is a screening test, not a diagnostic test. An abnormal Pap test result often means that other tests will need to be done to find out if a cancer or a pre-cancer is really there. There are various types of diagnostic tests, including colposcopy, cystoscopy, proctoscopy, or various imaging studies, such as a CT or PET scan.

For cervical cancer, the most important risk factor is infection with a virus known as HPV (human papilloma virus), which is actually a group of nearly 100 related viruses that can infect cells on the surface of the skin. In fact, many doctors believe that a woman must be infected by HPV before she develops cervical cancer. Some types of HPV cause genital warts, while other types cause cervical cancer. The kinds that cause cancer are called “high-risk” HPVs. HPV is typically referred to as a sexually transmitted disease, but the reality is that it can be passed from person to person by any kind of skin-to-skin contact with a part of the body infected with HPV.

While many women may have HPV, very few of these women will ever get cervical cancer. In most cases the body fights off the virus, and the infection goes away without any treatment. But in some women, the infection lasts and can cause cervical cancer.

Since early detection is key to fighting cervical cancer, encourage the women in your life to receive annual Pap tests in order to help ensure early detection.


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Have you seen our hospital?

Rothman Specialty Hospital is the only specialty hospital in partnership with the prestigious Rothman Instistute. The hospital is also accredited by the Joint Commission.

Rothman Specialty Hospital Highlights:

  • Equipped for joint replacements, orthopedic surgery, pain management and spine surgery
  • Offer treatment for sports medicine, foot & ankle surgery, shoulder & elbow surgery and hand & wrist procedures
  • Healthy, gourmet meals prepared on-site.

To learn more, click here.

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Pete S. – Patient Testimonial

A cancer diagnosis changes your life. During this time, it’s critical to know your options and it’s even better to find those options are convenient and located close to home. In April, Pete S. was diagnosed with Stage I prostate cancer. Despite the gravity of the diagnosis, the 67-year old realized the importance of thoroughly researching his options before making a treatment decision. He began his search by discussing conventional treatment methods with his doctor. These options included surgery, radiation treatments 5 days a week for nine weeks, or brachytheraphy, the placement of radioactive seed materials into the prostate.

Eventually, Pete’s inquisitive search led him online where he found the website for Accuray, a radiation oncology company that develops and sells treatment solutions for cancer patients. At the Accuray website Pete discovered CyberKnife, a non-invasive treatment method for tumors. The website pointed him to www.rothmancyberknife.com for CyberKnife treatment at Rothman Specialty Hospital.

Further armed in his fight against cancer, Pete and his wife visited a number of CyberKnife facilities in the Pennsylvania area. In addition to treating his Stage 1 prostate cancer diagnosis, Pete also needed a facility that could accommodate his size of 300 pounds. After visiting a number of CyberKnife providers, Pete’s search led him to Rothman Specialty Hospital where he spoke with Barbara Fischer, RN, the hospital’s CyberKnife program coordinator. Pete shared his Stage 1 prostate cancer diagnosis along with his height and weight considerations with Barbara and she assured him that he could be treated at Rothman Specialty Hospital.

Next Pete met with Eric Gressen, MD, a radiation oncologist and CyberKnife treatment specialist who deals specifically with prostate and lung cancers at Rothman Specialty Hospital. Together they discussed and compared the five-year results of treatment with conventional radiation versus the results of treatment with CyberKnife. After realizing that both methods offered similar results, Pete decided that CyberKnife was the way he would treat his cancer. After completing his initial evaluations and being informed about the possible side effects, Pete began CyberKnife treatments in December.

“This was a well thought out decision for me, and ultimately it was a simple decision to make,” Pete said. “The people I met at Rothman Specialty Hospital were very much a part of why I made my decision, and they made sure that I received the royal treatment.”

This treatment included special consideration for the claustrophobia Pete felt during the CT scan. During his scan, Dr. Gressen, Barbara, and Lori and Kathy, two technicians at Rothman Specialty Hospital, stayed in the room so that he remained comfortable throughout the process. Pete commented that Lori and Kathy played a major role in keeping him feeling calm. Over the next two weeks, Pete received five CyberKnife treatments while his Frank Sinatra cd played in the background.

“I believe that any decision regarding your health is a personal one, but I would encourage anyone in this position to consider CyberKnife,” Pete said. “The CyberKnife treatment is so much easier and much less stressful, but a large part of my positive experience was the compassion of the staff at Rothman Specialty Hospital and their ability to help keep me calm and consistently appraised of the situation at all times.”

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Maintaining a Healthy Weight

By maintaining a healthy weight you can prevent numerous diseases and conditions and control the acceleration of existing health problems. Avoiding the burden of excess pounds can also prevent cardiovascular disease, stroke, polycystic ovarian syndrome, gout, stress incontinence, sleep apnea, and early death.

Finding and staying at a healthy weight decreases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones and gallbladder disease, breathing problems, certain cancers, high cholesterol, joint problems, osteoarthritis, and back pain.

Here are a couple of ways to evaluate your weight. Plug in your statistics to a Body Mass Indicator (BMI) calculator online or use a tape measure to determine the circumference of your waist. A BMI calculator can be found online at www.bmi-calculator.net. Another online option is a body fat calculator, www.bmi-calculator.net/body-fat-calculator.

BMI calculations                                              Healthy Waist Circumference

Underweight – Less than 18.5                             Less than or Equal to 30 inches – women

Normal weight – 18.5-24.9                                  Less than or Equal to 40 inches – men

Overweight – 25-29.9

Obese – 30+

Talk to your primary care physician if you have questions or need assistance in creating a healthier lifestyle.

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Top Cancer Diagnoses in Men

Top cancer diagnoses in men

  1. Prostate cancer
  2. Lung cancer
  3. Colon and rectum cancer (colorectal)
  4. Urinary bladder cancer
  5. Melanoma
  6. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  7. Kidney and renal pelvis cancer
  8. Oral cavity and pharynx cancer
  9. Leukemia
  10. Pancreatic cancer

CyberKnife can destroy tumors or other lesions without the need of open surgery. The FDA has cleared CyberKnife for use in both primary and metastatic tumors located in the spine, brain, lung, prostate, liver, head and neck cancers, kidneys, and benign tumors. For more information about CyberKnife, please visit www.rothmancyberknife.com

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Lung cancer: not just a smoker’s disease

There is a large misconception that lung cancer is a disease that only affects smokers, but in fact, lung cancer in people who have never smoked is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.

  • 10-15% of lung cancers occur in non-smokers
  • Two-thirds of women who are diagnosed with lung cancer are non-smokers
  • Lung cancer in non-smokers is different on a genetic, cellular and molecular level
  • Lung cancer in non-smokers is treated the same way as it is in smokers

 Non-tobacco-related causes of lung cancer

  • radon
  • secondhand smoke
  • asbestos exposure
  • genetic disposition/heredity
  • air pollution
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Patient Testimonial – Richard D.

Right Place, Right Time

When a diagnosis of cancer strikes, timing is everything. Richard D. was diagnosed with Stage I lung cancer in the form of a malignant tumor located in the lower lobe of the right lung. Not long after his diagnosis, Richard saw an ad for CyberKnife at Rothman Specialty Hospital in The Intelligencer newspaper. Richard’s primary oncologist had recommended that Richard consider CyberKnife, a non-invasive treatment method for tumors, because of his age and lung condition.

Finding the CyberKnife advertisement became the first step in the 81-year-old’s journey toward wellness. Richard contacted Rothman Specialty, where he talked to Barbara Fischer, RN, the CyberKnife program coordinator, and provided her with his physical history. Richard later commented, “From the beginning Barbara put me at ease, and I saw that I had no worries in this process.”

After the staff at Rothman Specialty determined Richard to be a prime candidate for CyberKnife treatment, he received an orientation tour from the CyberKnife therapists at Rothman Specialty Hospital, followed by a consult with Eric Gressen, MD, a radiation oncologist and CyberKnife treatment specialist who deals specifically with prostate and lung cancers.

Richard spoke at length with Dr. Gressen about the recommended treatment for his Stage 1 lung cancer diagnosis, asking what he could expect from the CyberKnife process before, during, and after treatment. Dr. Gressen and Shari Rudoler, MD, another CyberKnife specialist at Rothman Specialty Hospital, helped prepare Richard for the CyberKnife procedure, treatment and post-treatment effects, and discharge plan. Post-surgery effects can include general fatigue and tiredness and possible changes in skin appearance.

“I left the office after talking with Drs. Gressen and Rudoler feeling completely comfortable,” Richard says. “I put my life in their hands, no problem.”

Richard’s CyberKnife treatment consisted of four radiosurgery treatments spread out over a 10-day period. The CyberKnife treatment method zeros in on a mass, targeting it with up to 200 beams of low dose irradiation, effectively “painting” the tumor with a prescribed dose of radiation.

Because of the accuracy and concentration of the radiation delivered, patients typically need only 3-5 radiation treatments versus 35-40 treatments for traditional radiation therapy, which is generally delivered 5-days a week over a 7-8 week period.

“This has been a fantastic experience for me and I have nothing but positive things to say about the team and their operative capabilities,” Richard says. “This is one of the best multi-disciplinary teams I’ve ever seen. They were marvelous.”

CyberKnife at Rothman Specialty Hospital

3300 Tillman Drive

Bensalem, PA 19020

(215) 244-7407


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Patient Testimonial – Robert M.

Serendipitous Timing

Surgery is not an option anyone makes lightly. For more than a year, Robert M. dealt with pain, numbness, and electrical activity in his right leg. As a result, he could not stand for more than five minutes nor walk 50 yards without needing to sit down. On June 6, Robert entered the hospital for removal of a cyst located at the right branch of the sciatic nerve.

The routine surgery quickly turned into a revelation that neither Robert nor his surgeon expected. The suspected cyst was actually a schwannoma, a noncancerous tumor inside the nerve sheath. This discovery brought Robert’s surgical procedure to an abrupt end.

While Robert lay in the hospital recovery area, his surgeon called over Dr. Shari Rudoler, a CyberKnife surgeon at Rothman Specialty Hospital, who was walking through the recovery area at that moment. Robert’s surgeon asked Dr. Rudoler to speak with him about the innovative CyberKnife procedure for the treatment of his tumor.

CyberKnife is the first frameless robotic radiosurgery system that can destroy tumors or other lesions without the need for open surgery. The CyberKnife radiosurgery results in no incisions or anesthesia, no pain or bleeding, lower risk of complications, no hospital stays, and faster recovery times. On average, each treatment session lasts 30-90 minutes.

Intrigued by his recovery room conversation with Dr. Rudoler, Robert began to further research the non-invasive CyberKnife technology. He also spoke with friends who had chosen to treat tumors with conventional radiation treatments. One friend recounted to Robert that he had 45 treatments over a 12-week period to treat prostate cancer. Robert weighed the option taken by his friend against CyberKnife’s recommended one to five sessions and quick recovery time. For Robert, the option of CyberKnife over conventional radiation was the right choice for him.

Robert chose the CyberKnife program at Rothman Specialty Hospital to begin his two-step CyberKnife treatment. The first step began with Dr. Rudoler mapping the tumor, followed by a targeted radiation treatment. Because of an open schedule that day at Rothman Specialty Hospital, Robert was able to have the two-step process completed the same day in a one-time, 20-minute treatment. Robert returned to Rothman Specialty Hospital in July for a check-up with Dr. Rudoler. At the appointment, Dr. Rudoler shared the news that the CyberKnife treatment had successfully destroyed the tumor. Today Robert reports that he is 90% symptom-free and is back to working out at the gym.

“I had heard the ads on the radio and TV before I needed CyberKnife,” Robert says. “As I learned more about CyberKnife and experienced the treatment, I believe CyberKnife to be one of the greatest technological innovations in the history of medicine.”

CyberKnife at Rothman Specialty Hospital
3300 Tillman Drive
Bensalem, PA 19020
(215) 244-7407


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CyberKnife: Managing Expectations

Q: I am currently on or have been on chemotherapy. Am I eligible for a CyberKnife treatment?

A: The CyberKnife System can treat patients that have either gone through chemotherapy or are currently undergoing chemotherapy. It is important for the patient to provide their physician with a complete medical history, so to the physician can prescribe the appropriate treatment course.

Q: I have had radiation or proton therapy. Am I still eligible for a CyberKnife treatment?

A: The CyberKnife System can treat patients that have either gone through radiation therapy or are currently undergoing radiation therapy. It is important for the patient to provide their physician with a complete medical history, so the physician can prescribe the appropriate treatment course.

Q: How much does a CyberKnife treatment cost?

A: During the consultation process, the CyberKnife staff will tell the patient how much the CyberKnife treatment costs.

Q: What side effects can I expect after a CyberKnife treatment? 

A: Most patients experience minimal to no short-term side effects and often recover quickly. Depending on the treatment site, some patient’s may experience different side effects such as mild fatigue or nausea. The CyberKnife physician will disclose all possible side effects prior to treatment.

Q: After treatment, when will my tumor or lesion disappear? 

A: The effects of radiosurgery vary and may occur gradually and over time. The timeframe can range from days, months or years depending on the medical condition targeted. Some tumors may disappear slower than others or may simply stop growing and present no further cell activity. After treatment, patients typically are asked to get periodic images (CAT scan or MRI) of their tumor(s) and additional tests may be required, so the physician can monitor the effectiveness of the treatment. 

Q: How many times can I receive a CyberKnife treatment?

A: The frequency of treatments depend on where the tumor is located and what type of tumor is being treated. Most cases can receive multi-treatments or can be re-treated with the CyberKnife System.

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Treatments for cancer or benign lesions

The treatment options available vary according to the specific cancer and its location. In general, the treatments can be divided into the following categories:

Radiosurgery, also known as stereotactic radiosurgery, is a form of radiation and despite its name, is not surgery. It is designed to precisely destroy a tumor or lesion by delivering a very high dose of radiation to the tumor in 1 to 5 treatments over a treatment course of 1 to 5 days. Patients are not required to be hospitalized during treatment and the procedure is almost always performed on an outpatient basis.

Radiation therapy:
Radiation therapy is a form of radiation that is usually delivered 5 days a week over a treatment course of 6 to 8 weeks. Radiation therapy, (as opposed to stereotactic radiosurgery), usually treats larger areas that include not only the tumor, but large amounts of healthy tissue, increasing the risk of possible complications. Patients are not required to be hospitalized during treatment and the procedure is almost always performed on an outpatient basis.

Brachytherapy is a specialized form of radiation therapy that requires the surgical placement of small radioactive sources in and around a tumor. The radioactive sources can be implanted either temporarily or permanently, depending on the nature of the source used. Low dose rate brachytherapy (LDR) delivers a prescribed dose over a longer period of time. Radioactive sources are usually implanted permanently. High dose rate brachytherapy (HDR) uses a different source type that delivers dose over a shorter period of time, therefore HDR sources are usually implanted temporarily. Brachytherapy has been used to treat a wide variety of cancers including prostate, breast, lung, head and neck cancers.

With Cyroablation, which is also called cryotherapy, a probe is inserted through the skin and into the tumor to freeze the tumor and kill its cells. Placement of the probe requires an incision and can be performed either on an inpatient or outpatient basis depending on the tumor being treated.

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU):
HIFU uses a focused ultrasound beam to kill tissue containing cancer cells. It is not FDA approved in the United States, but has been used to treat prostate cancer in Europe.

Surgery or surgical resection is an invasive procedure that requires an incision to remove or cut the tumor out of the body.   Surgery can be performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis depending on the tumor being treated.  Because of the invasiveness of some types of surgery, some patients may be excluded from receiving this type of treatment.

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