Two oncology centers have served the North Fork for decades but a third has now opened on Route 58 in Riverhead — and this one offers a type of treatment previously unavailable in the immediate area.
ProHealth Radiation Oncology joins North Fork Radiation Oncology and Eastern Long Island Hematology Oncology, all of which offer radiation oncology therapies to patients across the East End.
Dr. Isamettin Aral, radiation oncologist with ProHealth, said the new facility — which opened earlier this month — offers a state-of-the-art treatment option called stereotactic radiation therapy that isn’t currently isn’t offered on the North Fork. The nearest centers are in Smithtown and Stony Brook.
Among the most common treatments for cancer, radiation therapy treatment uses special equipment to aim high doses of radiation at cancer cells, damaging and killing them, according to health experts.
It is often effective in treating cancers of the brain, head and neck, as well as the lung, breast, prostate, skin, stomach and cervix, among others. Stereotactic radiation capabilities allow oncologists to use pinpoint accuracy, making it possible to deliver higher doses of radiation in fewer treatment sessions with lower risk to surrounding healthy tissue, Dr. Aral explained. He noted that the technology is particularly useful in battling spinal cancer and tumors of the liver.
“In a simple way, if you think about a tumor in a person’s body, we would want to treat it with the greatest precision — down to the millimeter — to spare all of the normal surrounding tissue,” he said.
“You and I might step back and say, ‘Well, whatever it takes to get well, we will do,’ But the reality is, if one is challenged by transportation issues or physically doesn’t feel well enough to make that 45-minute pilgrimage each way, every day, now you’re kind of stuck.”
Stereotactic radiation treatment, however, might not be necessary for all cancer patients, said Jean Marie Fudjinski, chief therapist at North Fork Radiation Oncology.
ProHealth Radiation Oncology will host a public grand opening today, Thursday, March 27, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at which community members can meet Dr. Aral and other medical staff members.