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Targeting Cancer: Prostate Cancer Care Team

Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center

When it comes to treating prostate cancer at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center in Eugene, patients receive support and treatment from a highly specialized care team, including people the patient may never see.

As chief medical physicist at WVCI, Adil Akhtar’s job is all about the details. Patients undergoing radiation treatment may never meet him, but they benefit from his work—ensuring, first and foremost, patient safety as well as the quality and effectiveness of each and every radiation treatment delivered.

“It’s very exciting what we’re able to do. We are able to shape radiation, which is a pretty phenomenal thing,” Akhtar says. “You can’t see radiation and we’re able to sculpt it and conform it to the target with precision and accuracy.”

“Cancer is really best treated by a team. With radiation, that’s especially true,” says Dr. David Fryefield, a radiation oncologist at WVCI. “We have dosimetrists that help us with our treatment planning; we generate an individual treatment plan for each patient. There are also the therapists who deliver the treatment. They do that under our direction. We all work together and we all have our roles in the patient’s care.”

“The physician has a vision of how they want to treat the patient and with what dose, and it’s our job as a team to implement that vision and make sure that it comes to fruition,” Ahktar says.

Radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer has advanced significantly in the last 10 years with the development of IMRT, which offers controlled, ultra precise, targeted doses of radiation. And now, WVCI is the first oncology clinic in the region to offer high dose treatments for prostate cancer called SBRT, which are delivered in less time.

“Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) really designates that someone is going to get about five treatments,” explains Dr. Thomas Sroka, a radiation oncologist at WVCI. “That’s given over about two weeks, versus classical radiation therapy for prostate cancer which is given over nine weeks.”

“It’s incredible. The technology is exciting and invigorating and it’s something where you’re always looking around the corner going, ‘That’s going to come next?’” says Nikki Thaut, WVCI’s Director of Radiation Services.

The goal of the care team is to provide quality care for the best outcome, help alleviate a patient’s worries and provide hope in the moment.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about the people,” Akhtar says. “It’s about the people you are treating and the people you’re working with. It’s just really humbling.”

When seeking cancer treatment, it’s important for a patient to ask questions, including, “Who will be the members of my care team?” and “How will they work together to help me get the best outcome?” Get more information about prostate cancer at

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