An Encounter with Radiation

We recently had an opportunity to tour the cancer wing at Genesis West. The goal was to learn how science contributes to the treatment of cancer using radiation. We arrived early in the afternoon eager to get out of the July heat and were greeted by a medical physicist. A medical physicist is, we learned, someone who ensures that the radiation equipment is adjusted properly so that the patient receives safe and effective treatment. We were a given a tour of the cancer institute, and learned how the equipment could help determine proper levels and locations for treatment, and also deliver the radiation treatment. The machines give 3D images of tumors, and determine precisely where to aim the energy.

Walking into any doctor’s office can be unnerving for some people, so it was easy to see how a cancer patient could find the enormous radiation equipment downright overwhelming. In talking with some of the staff at Genesis we learned that a cancer patient can expect to have upwards of 10 people involved in various aspects of their case. In addition to the number of people one would encounter while sick, some of the necessary scans can last up to 30 minutes at a time. It was fascinating to learn how these bulky giants use laser like precision to safely treat the cancer patients, but it was also sobering to know how it might be experienced from a patient’s perspective. Each of us enjoyed the tour; and both faculty and students found it to be a valuable learning experience!

Marie Adams and Andrew Friederich both contributed to this post.

For more information about radiation treatment at the Genesis Cancer Treatment Center, go to


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