Medical Director: Susan Higgins, MD
Since July 2004, the Department of Therapeutic Radiology of the Yale-New Haven Medical Center has been operating a clinic and treatment facility in Guilford, Connecticut. As an integral part of the Yale-New Haven Shoreline Medical Center (YNHSMC), various subspecialty services are located in a convenient setting for those patients who live on or near the Shoreline region. This facility along with our Radiation Oncology practice in Guilford is located just off Exit 59 of the Interstate 95 Highway. Medical services include not only external beam radiotherapy for our cancer patients, but also more generally include diagnostic imaging, laboratory testing, ambulatory surgery, endoscopy, emergency room, several private physician offices, and other support services such as nutrition counseling and preadmission testing. For the cancer patient who lives or works in the Shoreline area, this means that external beam radiotherapy may be administered more conveniently. The Department of Radiation Oncology at the YNHSMC is a full service practice, representing more than just an extension of our clinic in New Haven at the Yale-New Haven Medical Center.
Our hours of operation are from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm during the workweek. Our on-call schedule provides 24-hour coverage for urgent patient and physician concerns. The Guilford Radiation Oncology clinic is primarily staffed by two radiation oncologists, who simultaneously hold full time faculty appointments to the Yale University School of Medicine: Dr. Susan Higgins (Medical Director) and Dr. Kenneth B. Roberts. As a high quality practice, an Attending Physician is on the premises at all times. Our technical staff of nurses, radiation therapists, medical physicists, and dosimetrists are all highly experienced employees of Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Patients needing radiation oncology services may expect to receive a complete continuum of their care in Guilford: consultations, treatment planning, treatment delivery and supportive care, coordination with other specialists including medical oncologists and surgeons, and medical follow-up. External Beam Radiotherapy is delivered with a state-of-the-art dual energy Varian Linear Accelerator, capable of providing conventional radiotherapy, electron beam radiotherapy, three dimensional conformal radiotherapy, and intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). Treatment planning utilizes a GE CT-simulator providing mutli-slice or helical cross sectional imaging for precision localization of tumor and normal tissue structures.
Of one of the newest methods for precision radiotherapy, IMRT utilizes a unique computer based treatment planning and radiation delivery system. Conventional radiotherapy uses radiation beams of uniform intensity, exposing tumor and nearby normal tissues to the same radiation dose. With IMRT, multiple radiation beams are directed at a tumor target at different angles. The intensity of each beam is modulated by a multi-leaf collimator that produces individualized patterns of blocking across the beam under computer control. The summation of all the beams leads to a radiation dose pattern that more tightly conforms to the tumor while reducing radiation dose to adjacent normal tissues. Results of clinical trials in prostate cancer for instance demonstrate that the ability to increase the dose to tumor while reducing normal tissue exposure results in better cancer control and fewer side effects. IMRT appears to also be particularly advantageous in selected patients with Head and Neck cancer and some pediatric malignancies.
More specialized radiation oncology services such as brachytherapy (implanted radiation sources) or stereotactic radiosurgery (e.g. Gamma Knife®) are readily available at Yale. Concurrent chemotherapy will be coordinated with the various medical oncology practices in the area. When patients require hospitalization at Yale-New Haven Hospital, their radiation treatments may be easily continued there and then smoothly transferred back to Guilford upon hospital discharge. Finally, we are able to offer clinical trials to our patients through the Yale University School of Medicine. Currently, we have approximately 25 open protocols, many of which are sponsored by cooperative groups such as the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), the Eastern Cancer Oncology Group (ECOG), and the Childrens Oncology Group (COG).