FOX 32 NEWS - If you or someone you know has ever had a C-T scan, then you know how uncomfortable they can be.
Chicago now has the first Proton Center to be using something called a vertical C-T scan.
Gary McCandless, 73, and his wife are facing one of the biggest challenges of their 53 years of marriage. Gary is battling lung cancer, but he's undergoing a cutting edge treatment that he hopes will improve his outcome. It involves proton radiation therapy and a first of its kind vertical C-T scan.
A vertical C-T scan is exactly what you think. Instead of lying down in that small tube, which many complain is claustrophobic, the patient is sitting upright.
"Practically every one of our patients are telling us wow, it's so much easier."
Besides the bonus of being more comfortable for the patient, doctors say more importantly, the vertical C-T scan allows them to treat the lung cancer with precision they've never had before. That’s because when the patient is scanned lying down, that apparently causes the tumors to move with the motion in the lungs.
Research shows that's not the case when sitting upright.
"It turns out that when we sit up as opposed to lying on back, that diaphragm moves less…we breathe less and therefor there is less motion of targets and other important structures in the area."
The seat is on a robotic arm that moves the patient into position. Then, the scanner actually comes down over the patient. Once the scan is complete, the patient sits in the exact same seat to receive the proton beam radiation therapy.
Research is going on to see how effective it can be
In the meantime, McCandless says his treatments have him feeling better and are allowing him to spend time enjoying his retirement and his 15 grandchildren, who live just a few miles away.
Right now, the vertical C-T scan is being used in the treatment of lung cancers, lymphomas, esophageal cancers and head and neck tumors.