Since the February opening of the Radiation Oncology Center in Zachary, 72 patients have received 1,500 treatments, Dr. William Russell said during a Nov. 6 Zachary Rotary Club meeting.

“We’re operating full time and averaging about 20 patients a day,” Russell said.

Board-certified in internal medicine and radiation oncology, Russell and Dr. Andrew Lauve are the radiation oncologists on staff at the $4.5 million center, a joint effort between the Baton Rouge General and Lane Regional medical centers.

“That’s a lot of people who would have driven to Baton Rouge for cancer treatments and therapy,” Russell said. “Being treated for cancer is a very disruptive thing.”

Radiation oncology treats cancer by delivering high-energy beams directly to a tumor or intended target or mass, Russell explained.

The $1 million machine delivering the cancer treatments is called a linear accelerator and is capable of doing everything that’s being done today in radiation oncology, Russell said.

The linear accelerator generates 15 million to 20 million of those high-energy electrons as opposed to an X-ray, which delivers about 50,000 electrons, Russell said.

In early 2014, the American Cancer Society estimated about 23,400 new cancer diagnoses for Louisiana, with prostate, lung, female breast cancer and colorectal cancers topping the list.

According to the American Society of Radiation Oncology, two out of three cancer patients will receive radiation therapy, either alone or in combination with other treatment approaches, such as surgery or chemotherapy.

To contact the Radiation Oncology Center, call (225) 570-1212 or visit roczachary.com.