Better Cancer Treatment, Closer

By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter
By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter

Knoxville (WVLT) - Thursday is the Great American Smokeout, encouraging smokers to not light up for a day.

It's a step in the right direction to quitting. After all, Tennessee has one of the highest rates of smoking and lung cancer in the nation.

Medical Reporter Jessa Goddard is covering your health, with news of a new cancer center being built here in East Tennessee.

Access to cancer treatment has long been an obstacle to rural Tennesseans, who have to travel as far as 80 miles for care, until now.

High rates of smoking, poor diet and exercise habits and poor air quality. All contributing factors to higher rates of cancer in East Tennessee.

But treatment facilities have long been lacking in some of the areas they're needed most.

"Communities the size of Sevierville deserve to have cancer services because of the volume of cancer that happens in that size community."

Thompson Cancer Survival Center Director Phil Johnson says cancer treatment is best received in a centralized location, where patients receive care from diagnosis through recovery under one roof.

Often that includes a series of 25 radiation treatments, and a daily drive from Sevierville to Knoxville.

"For example, maybe 80 miles or more round trip to access things like radiation oncology. With this facility in Sevierville, they'll have the opportunity to get that service right in Sevier."

The Thompson Cancer Survival Center at Sevier will be located across from Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center, and will offer the latest in cancer treatment, including positron emission tomography, diagnostic and therapeutic radiology and chemotherapy.

"At this facility, we will have for the first time, radiation oncology -- that's the big service."

Johnson says the area's growing population created a demand for services and a facility to meet its growing needs.

In the planning stages for several years now, the cancer center is scheduled for completion in 2008.

The Cancer Center is one of three Covenant Health projects the state approved.

It also approved plans for a $79 million replacement hospital, as well as an expanded surgery department at Parkwest Medical Center.

Site preparation for the new hospital has already begun.


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