About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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New cancer center under way

Drs. James Daniel, Rod Flynn, Jason Sheehan, Jeffrey Poffenbarger and Charles Maurer (from left) participated in this morning's groundbreaking at the hospital’s new cancer center.

The ceremonial groundbreaking was held this morning for a new cancer center at Mary Washington Hospital. The center will share a lobby with the new women’s center on the south side of the campus at the traffic circle.

Mary Washington’s plan, subject to state approval, is to close the existing Cancer Center of Virginia on State Route 3 in Spotsylvania, upgrade one of  its two linear accelerators and move both of them.

“This will be the cancer center,” said Fred Rankin, president and chief executive officer for Mary Washington Healthcare, this morning. “If everything is approved, one accelerator will come here and one accelerator will go to Stafford Hospital.”

The new building also will house a second linear accelerator, already approved, that’s capable of  doing stereotactic radiosurgery, or SRS. SRS is a new service in the area. It uses “tight beams of radiation” to treat tumors noninvasively, said Dr. John Chinault, director of radiation oncology at the Cancer Center of Virginia.

“This technique started out being used primarily in the brain but has now expanded breathtakingly rapidly into other areas such as the chest and abdomen,” Chinault said.  

More than 50 Fredericksburg-area residents travelled to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville for SRS surgery of the central nervous system last year, said Dr. Jason Sheehan, associate professor of neurological surgery. Other patients made the trip for SRS treatment of other body parts, Sheehan said.

Sheehan attended the groundbreaking to mark the university’s new partnership with Mary Washington. The University of Virginia will be a 20-percent partner in Mary Washington’s SRS program at the new cancer center, Rankin said.

(For more details about Mary Washington’ s plan to relocate some of its cancer services, see the story in tomorrow’s paper.)