Valley’s Radiation Oncology program is led by physicians who are nationally recognized in their field. These doctors are assisted by a team of professionals whose many years of education and experience help hundreds of patients and families each year.
Our Radiation Oncologists
Michael F. Wesson, M.D., was Chief Resident at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Wesson served as an attending staff physician at the Mount Sinai Medical Center where he founded the Brachytherapy Service. Dr. Wesson has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles, made presentations at major national medical meetings and conducted significant clinical research in radiation oncology. He is board certified in radiation oncology. Dr. Wesson has also earned certification in the use of the Gamma Knife Perfexion.
Young Kim, M.D., completed her education at Korea University School of Medicine, and is Board Certified in Radiation Oncology. She performed internships at the Hospital of Saint Raphael, New Haven; and The National Medical Center in Korea. She completed residencies in Therapeutic Radiology at Memorial Hospital for Cancer & Allied Diseases in New York City, and Anatomic and Clinical Pathology at Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, New Jersey. She completed a fellowship in Radiation Oncology at Memorial Hospital for Cancer & Allied Diseases in New York City. Dr. Kim has also earned certification in the use of the Gamma Knife Perfexion.
Chad M. DeYoung, M.D., is Director of the Department of Radiation Oncology. He completed his residency training at The University of Maryland. Following his training he accepted an academic appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at The University of Maryland where he helped to develop a partial breast irradiation program and an extra-cranial stereotactic body radiation therapy program. He has served on national committees through CALGB and IASLC developing national research protocols, and has presented work at major national meetings. He is board certified in radiation oncology through the American Board of Radiology. He was an active member of The University of Maryland’s Gamma Knife Team, receiving his certification from The Cleveland Clinic in 2004. Dr. DeYoung has earned certification in the use of the Gamma Knife Perfexion.
Neha Sharma, M.D., received her medical education at the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University in New York, completed her residency in Radiation Oncology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. There, she served as Chief Resident in the Cornell Department of Radiation Oncology. Dr. Sharma was awarded the NCCN Fellows Recognition Program grant as well as the Seattle Prostate Brachytherapy Institute Fellowship. Dr. Sharma has experience in stereotactic radiosurgery including the Gamma Knife, a non-invasive radiosurgery system available to patients at Valley.
Radiation Oncologists work closely with the patient’s own physician teams in coordinating care that places the patient's best interests at the center of all medical decisions. At Valley, a seamless approach to care is provided, the result of a long established working relationship between all medical disciplines that are involved. Treatment is integrated with other departments including medical oncology; surgery; rehabilitation medicine; social services; home care; genetic counseling; wound, ostomy and continence care; research and clinical trials coordinators; food and nutrition; complementary therapies; and patient relations.
Technology & Treatment
TomoTherapy optimizes radiation therapy by delivering an advanced form of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) with unprecedented precision. This enables more accurate and more precise treatment of the tumor, while minimizing the dose to surrounding healthy tissue.
What’s unique about this technology is that a limited CT scan is taken prior to each daily treatment to determine the precise location of a patient’s tumor. Radiation is then targeted and delivered to the specific area via tiny highly targeted beams that rotate in a helical pattern.
“Valley’s radiation oncologists are among the most experienced in the Northeast in the use of this cutting-edge technology, which allows us to deliver precision radiation therapy, “ explains Michael F. Wesson, M.D., Radiation Oncologist at The Valley Hospital. “This technology reduces exposure of healthy tissue to radiation, which means a reduction in side effects for our patients.”
During a patient’s course of treatment, which can take up to nine weeks, a tumor can move and change in size. The ability to do 3-D imaging immediately before each treatment to verify the location of a tumor increases the precision of the treatment. “We are now able to perform Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), which is the new state-of-the-art for radiation therapy treatment,” says Chad DeYoung, M.D., Director of Radiation Oncology.
The Valley Hospital Department of Radiation Oncology has a long and proud track record of innovation. Valley was the first institution on the East Coast to perform prostate seed implant therapy and the first to treat patients using Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT).
The Valley Hospital Oncology Services Program became the first in New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area to be awarded Disease-Specific Care Certification for cancer care from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). This certification serves as the Gold Seal of Approval™ for health care quality.
Valley utilizes two state-of-the-art linear accelerators that emit high-energy radiation to tumors throughout the body. This technology is effective in destroying cancer cells. With skill and precision, the treatment team carefully directs radiation to the precise location. Treatment is delivered by a certified, licensed therapist under direction from a Radiation Oncologist.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) is the standard of care in the field of radiation therapy. It completely alters the way radiation therapy is planned and delivered, enabling tumors to be treated in areas that were previously difficult to reach. Traditional or even newer forms of conformal radiation use one to six fixed beams of high energy radiation aimed at a target that has been identified by a physician and physicist. But IMRT uses inverse treatment planning, a computerized process that identifies the optimal treatment for each patient from millions of directions and possibilities that are available. IMRT delivers up to 700 pencil-thin, three-dimensional beams of radiation that conform to the shape of the individual patient's tumor. Because IMRT pinpoints the tumor so well, it significantly spares damage to healthy tissue and organs surrounding the tumor – even in cases where the tumor has wrapped itself around a vital organ. Valley uses IMRT technology to treat numerous types of sites throughout the body.
Coming Soon: Two Varian True Beam Linear Accelerators.
The Valley Hospital was the first hospital in northern New Jersey to offer Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery, a noninvasive tool designed to treat cancer and neurological conditions of the brain.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a safe and effective method for treating cancer and neurological conditions in the brain, head and neck. Trigeminal neuralgia and brain cancer are two of the many diagnoses treatable with Gamma Knife radiosurgery.
The commonly used phrase Gamma Knife “surgery” is largely a misnomer. The technology is not a “knife” in the traditional meaning of the word, nor is it “surgery” given that no incisions are made there is no overnight stay in a hospital or an extended recuperation period.
Instead, highly focused beams of radiation are directed to the treatment area. The shape and dose of the radiation are optimized to hit only the target, without damaging surrounding healthy tissue.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery provides safe and effective treatment for more than 40,000 patients treated every year around the world. The procedure is simple and painless. Patients are treated in one session and can resume normal activity shortly after treatment.
For information on Valley’s Gamma Knife Center, please go to www.ValleyGammaKnife.com.
CT Simulation and 3D Treatment Planning Systems are the standard of care at Valley to plan each individual patient’s radiation therapy regimen. These technology choices once again demonstrate Valley’s commitment to excellence.
The CT Simulator, as opposed to a conventional simulator, is the most advanced geometric planning system available. In addition, Valley’s focus on patient safety mandates that all CT scanned patients receive as little radiation dose as possible. All units are calibrated and monitored to ensure optimal scan data with minimal exposure to the patient.
CT scan data is then used to plan all radiation treatments. The images generated by the simulator are transferred to appropriate 3D treatment planning computers and used by the Radiation Oncologists and Physicists to develop an optimal treatment delivery course.
The three-dimensional treatment planning system enables physicians to more precisely target the exact tumor and dosage needed. The system creates a three-dimensional “virtual patient” from CT images. All of the tissue, bone and air cavities that fall in the path of the radiation beam can be visualized and analyzed to determine how much radiation will be delivered to each area within the patient. The system provides views that have never before been available, allowing Radiation Oncologists to ensure maximum dose to the tumor site and minimal radiation to normal structures.
Brachytherapy is an extremely valuable technique that has saved many lives. Often an alternative to surgery, brachytherapy techniques can be used in treating cancers of the prostate, lung, head/neck, pancreas, colon, esophagus and gynecological area. Valley was the first institution on the East Coast and second in the nation to introduce ultrasound-guided prostate brachytherapy – the revolutionary “seed implant” therapy for prostate cancer.
With brachytherapy, radioactive material is permanently implanted directly into a tumor. These implants allow radiation oncologists to deliver high doses of radiation to the tumor itself without affecting surrounding tissue.
At Valley, a Radiation Oncologist is on call to the operating room 24 hours a day to perform brachytherapy. In situations where a surgeon is unable to remove a tumor or feels that some cancer cells may be left behind, seed implants can be inserted into the patient in the operating room. This quick response sets Valley apart from other hospitals and gives patients a significant extra level of medical attention. Studies have shown that success rates with seed brachytherapy are better than or equal to surgery, and seed brachytherapy is a less invasive procedure with low rates of complications.
The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood was the first in the state to offer a new form of radiation therapy - called cesium-131 seeds - that represents the most significant advancement in prostate seed brachytherapy in nearly 20 years.
The cesium-131 seed is an improvement over other types of brachytherapy implant seeds because it offers a shorter half-life and faster delivery of the total radiation dose than the other types of seeds on the market.
“The cesium-131 seeds allow for the delivery of more radiation in a shorter period of time to maximize its effectiveness while minimizing side effects,” said Michael Wesson, M.D., Radiation Oncologist. “We believe this offers an effective option for men who choose brachytherapy to treat their prostate cancer.”
Cesium-131 has a half-life of about 10 days. Palladium-103 and Iodine-125 – alternative isotopes used in seed implant therapy – have a half-life of 17 days and 60 days, respectively.
“The cesium-131 isotope represents a new standard of care for the treatment of prostate cancer,” says Dr. Wesson. “It represents the best of both worlds – it attacks cancer cells more aggressively than other isotopes while causing fewer side effects.”
Brachytherapy, often referred to as “seed brachytherapy” or simply “seed therapy,” is an ultrasound-guided procedure that involves the placement of tiny radioactive seeds about the size of a grain of rice directly into cancerous tissue. Needles are used to implant the seeds. No incision or suturing is required.
A radioactive isotope contained in the seed releases energy that attacks tumor cells while sparing damage to surrounding tissue. The treatment effectively and accurately delivers high doses of radiation to a small area with virtually no side effects to the patient.
High Dose Rate Afterloader
At Valley, another type of brachytherapy using a High Dose Rate remote afterloader (HDR) is used to temporarily delivery high doses of radiation to small, clearly defined cancer sites such as GYN, esophagus and lung. Because of the strength and control of the HDR source, patients only need a few treatments, which can be performed on an outpatient basis.
Partial Breast Treatment
The Valley Hospital Department of Radiation Oncology offers partial breast radiation using the High Dose Rate afterloader (HDR) unit which works by delivering radiation inside the breast directly to the tissue where cancer is most likely to recur. A balloon catheter placed at the time of surgery allows the Radiation Oncologist to temporarily place the radioactive source at the tumor site; thus delivering a high dose of radiation to the area most at risk for recurrence while limiting the radiation dose to the surrounding normal breast and adjacent tissues. This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis.
“This form of targeted radiation therapy is extremely effective in preventing recurrence, and it can be completed in 1 to 5 days, allowing patients to get back to their normal routine sooner than conventional radiation therapy treatments,” says Radiation Oncologist Young Kim, M.D.
A Team Approach
Technology, however advanced, is only as good as the professionals who manage it. Valley’s Radiation Oncology Department employs a team approach to foster medical excellence and ensure optimal patient satisfaction. The multidisciplinary teams consist of Board Certified Radiation Oncologists, Oncology Certified Nurses, licensed Radiation Therapists, physicists, dosimetrists, an advanced-degree social worker, a registered dietitian and multiple levels of support personnel.
Critical to the team approach is the focus on patient safety at Valley. All patient related procedures are verified and reviewed on several levels prior to any treatment delivery. Numerous quality assurance measures have been put in place to ensure accurate and appropriate treatment for above mandatory regulations and requirements.
Physicists and Dosimetrists
Valley’s physicists work with radiation oncologists to ensure that each patient receives the best treatment. They are responsible for developing and directing quality control programs and are responsible for the daily operation and safety of equipment and procedures. Dosimetrists carefully calculate doses of radiation to ensure a tumor is effectively treated. They develop a number of treatment plans that can best destroy the tumor while sparing normal tissue. They work with the radiation oncologist and the physicist to choose a treatment course that is best for each patient.
At Valley, nursing care is designed to meet the physical, psychological, social and educational needs of patients and their families. This begins with the initial consultation where a registered nurse educates the patient on the radiation oncology process and suggests self-care measures to minimize any side effects the patient may experience. The nurse is also available daily to answer questions, manage symptoms and address fears. All this is accomplished through frequent communication with the physician. Valley’s team of nurses are specially trained and certified in their field of oncology and are dedicated to delivering the highest quality care to their patients.
Home Care Follow-Up
Through the resources of Valley Home Care, a specially trained nurse clinician provides patient education and rehabilitative services in the home to help cancer patients reach new levels of independence and achieve a higher quality of life. It is the only program of its kind in northern New Jersey. The oncology clinician plays an important role in the period between outpatient radiation therapy appointments and other forms of cancer care.
A number of key factors separate Valley’s Department of Radiation Oncology from others in the area:
Valley was the first institution on the East Coast and the second in the nation to introduce ultrasound-guided prostate brachytherapy – the revolutionary "seed implant" therapy for prostate cancer.
Valley’s Radiation Oncology Department is the first facility or medical practice in northern New Jersey to be awarded accreditation from the American College of Radiology (ACR).
Physicians throughout the country have come to Valley to learn the most advanced brachytherapy techniques.
Valley is the first institution in New Jersey to offer Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT).
Radiation Oncologists at Valley are involved in important clinical research trials with prestigious organizations such as the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group and the Southwest Oncology Group. These research trials are contributing to ongoing progress in the field of cancer care.
Valley physicians are repeatedly recognized in New York magazine as some of the best doctors in the New York Metro area.
Valley is licensed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection & Energy, Bureau of Radiation Protection.
Physicists are certified by the American Board of Radiology.
Radiation Therapists are certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
All nurses are oncology certified through the Oncology Nursing Society.
*Valley was the first institution in northern New Jersey to offer Gamma Knife Perfexion radiosurgery technology.
Please call 201-634-5403 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on any of our programs and services.