Baptist new radiation equipment to shorten treatment

Dr. GruberBaptist Health Paducah, the Paducah area’s only nationally-accredited cancer center, is on the brink of an exciting new era in cancer treatment.

The hospital recently invested $3.1 million to purchase new technology that can shorten radiation treatments from weeks to days.

When installed next March, it will be used to perform new techniques known as stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body radiotherapy. Stereotactic means imaging markers are used to guide the beam of the radiation or the surgeon to the precise spot needing treatment to minimize the damage done to any surrounding tissue.

Why is it better?

For brain surgery, the new stereotactic equipment represents a major advance. Since we added neurosurgical staff to treat cases locally, the number of brain tumor patients treated at Baptist Health has tripled. This non-invasive treatment for brain tumors truly is a paradigm shift.

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a highly precise form of radiation therapy initially developed to treat small brain tumors and functional abnormalities of the brain. It is now being applied to the treatment of body tumors with a procedure known as stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT).

The new equipment will provide an alternative to invasive surgery, especially for patients unable to have surgery and for hard-to-reach tumors close to vital organs. Besides brain tumors, it can be used to treat tumors throughout the body, including lung, liver, spine, prostate and head and neck.

It is the most advanced technology available anywhere, and it will be here in Paducah. Oftentimes local patients travel out-of-state for treatment, but this new treatment will allow them to stay close to home.

New cancer center

This treatment will become part of a comprehensive all-under-one-roof Regional Cancer Care Center at Baptist Health Paducah. Baptist Health treats about 1,200 patients a year, including about 110 outpatients daily for radiation and chemotherapy.

To meet the growing need, Baptist Health Paducah announced recently its 2015 plans to develop the cancer center. It already has retained an architect, made site visits to other cancer centers and conducted focus groups with physicians and patients to determine their needs for a new center.

Preliminary plans call for the center to be developed adjacent to the current radiation therapy area on the northeast end of the campus on the Broadway side. It will bring together radiation therapy, outpatient chemotherapy, lab, rehabilitation, research, education resources, palliative care, dietary counseling, complementary medicine and retail space – with nurse navigators to assist patients and their families as they go from diagnosis through treatment.

Nov. 20 informational meeting

The public is invited to an informational meeting to ask questions and hear more details about the center at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, in the Baptist Heart Center auditorium. At 7 p.m., details will be provided on an expansion of our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

If you have any health questions, talk to a nurse 24/7 at Baptist Health Line: 270.575.2918.

  • Neurosurgeon Thomas Gruber, MD
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Staying healthy during the hectic holidays

LeaFrom Halloween to New Year’s, the holidays are filled with high-sugar, high-calorie treats to wreck your diet and extra activities to derail your daily fitness regimen. It’s hard to stay on a healthy path when stress and festivities lurk around every corner.

The average person gains five pounds over the holidays, which can be hard on the heart. It’s important not to give up, even if you have a bad day or two. Get back to your healthy lifestyle as soon as you can because small changes can have a big impact on your health over the long-run.

Heart disease is the leading killer for men and women in the U.S., but many of its risks can be diminished through small lifestyle changes. A heart-healthy lifestyle not only includes maintaining an ideal weight and exercising, but also eating more fruits and vegetables and reducing unhealthy fat, sugar and salt in our diets. This is important for adults and children.

Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, and about a third of children and adolescents weigh too much. The extra pounds put us at a greater risk of developing several debilitating and costly diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Tips for a healthy holiday

  • Don’t completely deprive yourself of holiday foods you love. Instead, eat them less often and in smaller portions.
  • Stroll around the neighborhood for 30 minutes looking at the Christmas lights or exercise indoors, if the weather doesn’t permit outside activities.
  • Before a holiday party, eat a healthy snack, such as nonfat yogurt or a piece of fruit. The fruit will fill you up and help you pass up party foods.
  • If chocolate is your passion, choose one piece of dark chocolate, which is full of antioxidants.
  • Use the stairs, instead of the elevator, while shopping. Or park away from the store entrance, and walk a little farther. Every step counts.
  • Buy lean cuts of meat for family meals, and boil or grill them to reduce the fat. When serving potatoes, use yams or sweet potatoes to increase vitamins and minerals. Try using low-fat buttermilk instead of butter and cream in mashed potatoes. Cook with olive oil instead of unhealthy oils or fats.

Heart-healthy recipes

Baptist Health Paducah provides a variety of heart-healthy recipes at For people dealing with congestive heart failure, check out the recipes to control salt in your diet and manage fluid intake to protect your heart.

If you need extra help with your weight, Baptist Health now offers medical and surgical weight loss programs. Check for free information sessions.

Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline

If you have questions about heart attack or stroke symptoms, you can talk to a Baptist nurse free 24 hours a day on the Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline: 1.800.575.1911.

  • Cardiologist Brian Lea, MD
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How to safely manage your weight loss

QuinteroIf you struggle with your weight, you are not alone. Most of us are trying to lose weight or maintain our weight at some point in our lives.

You shouldn’t be ashamed to see a physician over concerns about your weight and possible health risks associated with being overweight. It is the right thing to do for your body and your future.

See your primary care physician

The first step to a healthier weight is talking to your primary care doctor about any concerns. Your weight alone is not the best indicator for risk of health complications, so your doctor will calculate your BMI or Body Mass Index. It is calculated by weight divided by height, then squared.

This calculation will tell your doctor if you are considered to be normal weight for your height or if you are overweight or obese. The greater the number, the higher your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and other serious health conditions.

What’s the next step?

After determining your BMI, you and your doctor may need to discuss medical and surgical options for weight loss.

The first step is to speak with a dietitian, who can advise you about healthier food choices. Changing your diet and exercising are still the best solutions for long-term weight loss. There are no shortcuts or magic pills that will provide you the same solution.

Some people find they can’t achieve a healthy BMI with lifestyle changes or even medical intervention. These patients should consider weight loss surgery a safe and reasonable option.

Most insurance companies pay for weight loss surgery if you have a BMI of 35 or higher (considered obese) because it is the only known cure for diabetes. It also can reduce or eliminate sleep apnea, high blood pressure and other risk factors.

Insurance companies usually require six months of medically-supervised weight loss before surgery. During those six months, patients may lose weight and educate themselves about the surgery and how it will affect their life and eating habits.

Informational session

I will share more about medical and surgical options for weight loss at an informational session set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Heart Center auditorium. For reservations, phone 270.443.0202.

– Paige Quintero, MD, general and bariatric surgeon


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Why real men wear pink: 1 in 8

Picture Bill Brown Color 08-08-12Dancing around in pink gloves feels a little silly. I know, I just did it.

It looks a little silly, too. Just silly enough, we hope, to get your attention.

We need to get your attention. Why? Just think: One in eight.

One in eight. That’s the number of women who will get breast cancer in their lifetime. That’s a couple of women out of your Sunday School class, at least one on your street, maybe three or four co-workers. It’s your mother, your sister, your daughter or your best friend.

Its prevalence can’t be denied. Its toll on our community can’t either.

Cancer, or the “C” word as some call it, has long struck fear in our hearts – and much for good reason. Some cancers still are rarely detected until they are so advanced that a cure is difficult. Thankfully, breast cancer isn’t one of those. Mammograms have been common screening tools since the 1980s, and now digital mammography – even with 3-D pictures – has improved accuracy to find cancers as small as a grain of salt!

When breast cancer is discovered in its earliest stages, chances are it can be cured. Yes, cured. Now that’s a “C” word we can embrace.

Among all cancers treated at our hospital, the number of breast cancers is second only to lung cancer. Last year alone, we had 146 new cases of breast cancer. Statistics can seem cold, but just think about the impact these have on 146 families:

– More than one-third were under 60, women with families and jobs, in the prime of their lives.

– As a testament to the importance of breast cancer screening, more than one-half of the diagnosed breast cancers were Stage I or smaller, meaning they were caught early and had the best chance to survive.

– Looking five years out shows the real importance of early detection: 93 percent of Stage 0 cancers survived 5 years; 88 percent of Stage 1; and 84 percent of Stage 2.

The American Cancer Society says women should have a mammogram every year from 40 on – earlier if there is family history. Most insurance covers annual mammograms, and so do Medicaid and Medicare. It’s a quick test – in and out in 20 minutes – and the process has been refined for maximum comfort and convenience, my wife assures me.

Bill_Mickey_BrownSo why would a woman miss her mammogram? Maybe she’s busy, she thinks cancer won’t happen to her, she’ll do it next year.

All of which brings us back to the silly dance. Our hospital filmed its fourth annual Pink Glove Dance this year for a national video contest to promote breast cancer awareness.

Firefighters, EMS and police – mostly men – from 12 public safety agencies joined our doctors and nurses in the dance. They’re not from our hospital, but they are from our community, touched as we all are by the one in eight women with breast cancer.

As fun as it was to see the bomb squad in full gear with pink gloves, they are not the stars of our video. Our stars are the 24 breast cancer survivors who got their mammograms, lived through cancer detection and treatment to smile and dance for you to a song called, “The Best Day of My Life.”

To define the best day of their lives, many of the survivors wrote the dates they were considered cancer-free. Some of them wrote EVERY DAY, and others wrote TODAY to signify the joy in living each moment.

We hope you will honor their courage by viewing the video and voting every day now through Sept. 28 at, knowing that every vote serves as a reminder to someone to get that mammogram. So there are more survivors to join the dance.

William A. Brown is West Regional executive for Baptist Health and the president of Baptist Health Paducah.

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Who needs to get a mammogram?

Kim BakerAre you putting off getting a mammogram? That may be a risk you don’t want to take. Countless women can testify to the importance of this screening.

Just ask the 24 breast cancer survivors who danced in this year’s Baptist Health Paducah Pink Glove Dance video. All of them would encourage other women to perform breast self-exams and schedule regular mammograms.

Life-saving early detection

One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. It is the most common cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer. Because early detection improves survival rates, the American Cancer Society recommends beginning breast self-exams in your 20s and annual mammograms at 40, or earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer.

Obstetrician/gynecologists Blair Tolar, MD, and Amber Savells, MD, and nurse practitioner Tammy Carr, APRN, and I at Baptist Health Women’s Choice encourage our patients to perform regular breast self-exams. One Johns Hopkins study says 40 percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump.

The American Cancer Society recommends doing the breast self-exam while lying down so the breast tissue is spread evenly over the chest wall and is as thin as possible.

Mammograms save lives

Mammograms are just as important. They can help detect cancer before lumps form.

Outpatient digital mammography is located in Baptist Health Imaging Center at 2705 Kentucky Ave., next to Baptist Health Paducah with a separate entrance and designated parking near 28th and Kentucky Avenue.

Five technologists perform more than 650 mammograms each month in the mammography suite, which features a spa-like atmosphere and art work by local breast cancer survivors.

Baptist Health Paducah has been designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, a distinction awarded to just the top 3 percent in the nation for quality imaging.

 Pink Glove Dance video

You can support local breast cancer survivors by voting Sept. 9-23 for the Baptist Health Paducah Pink Glove Dance video, which reminds women to get annual mammograms for early detection. Vote once daily at from each e-mail address.

Online voting will determine national winners with cash prizes awarded to breast cancer charities. If we win, our proceeds will benefit the Kentucky Cancer Program.

To make an appointment at Baptist Health Women’s Choice, phone 270.443.1220. For information on mammograms, phone 270.575.7242 (BIC). To schedule an outpatient test, phone 270.575.2662.

– Kim Baker, APRN, Baptist Health Women’s Choice



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Women can expect safe surgery options with COEMIG

Blair TolarAre you a woman living with pelvic pain or bleeding because you don’t want to face the long recovery time and pain typically associated with surgery?

There is no need to delay treatment when you can receive world-class care at Baptist Health Paducah’s Center of Excellence Minimally Invasive Gynecology (COEMIG). Baptist is one of 170 hospitals worldwide to receive the prestigious designation by the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists™ and the Surgical Review Corp.

Baptist offers several minimally invasive gynecology surgery options, ranging from pelvic organ prolapse repair to hysterectomy. The COEMIG seal assures women that we are committed to excellence in minimally invasive gynecologic surgical care, including:

  • Safest, highest-quality surgical care.
  • Faster recovery time and less scarring.

See your doctor

The first step is to make an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause of your pain.

It is estimated 10 to 20 percent of reproductive-age women in the U.S. suffer from endometriosis, when the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus. A gynecologist can determine if your chronic pelvic pain is caused by endometriosis.

Other conditions, ranging from incontinence to cancer, may require surgical treatment; but many gynecological procedures no longer require a large abdominal incision or long hospital stays.

Prolapse repair

Pelvic organ prolapse, the drooping of pelvic organs, happens to about one-third of all women. Common causes include pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, respiratory problems with a chronic cough and hysterectomy.

Robotic surgery can repair pelvic organ prolapse, using soft synthetic mesh to support pelvic organs that have slipped out of their normal positions. The minimally invasive surgery generally takes only one to two hours.

Incontinence repair

Women experience incontinence – the accidental release of urine – twice as often as men. It can be caused by childbirth, weight gain or other conditions that stretch the pelvic muscles, and can occur from sneezing, laughing and coughing. Surgery is often the best treatment.

Outpatient procedures for incontinence include a “sling” procedure with small incisions to lift the urethra back into a normal position.


Hysterectomy, the removal of the uterus, may be necessary to treat a variety of conditions, including non-cancerous and cancerous tumors.

Baptist Health Paducah became the first hospital in the region to implement the da Vinci Surgical System for hysterectomies, ovarian cysts and other abdominal problems. It allows women to go back to work much quicker than the traditional abdominal hysterectomy – often in two weeks, compared to six weeks.

Talk to our nurses

If you have a question about different surgical options at our Center of Excellence Minimally Invasive Gynecology, ask our nurses at Baptist Health Line 24 hours a day at 270.575.2918.

– Blair Tolar, MD, obstetrician/gynecologist

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Surgery can offer immediate relief for back fractures

Dr. GruberDo you have a back pain? If so, you are not alone. Back pain is one of the most common health complaints, whether you have lower back pain or hurt all over.

The back can be injured in many ways, including muscle strains, sports injuries, arthritis or degenerative disc disease. Symptoms can sometimes be relieved with pain medication or physical therapy. Sometimes more serious injuries require surgery.

Osteoporosis, tumors and injuries can cause spine fractures. If left untreated, spine fractures can cause the spine to shorten and lean forward, resulting in a hunched back and making it difficult to walk. If you have been diagnosed with a spine fracture by your primary physician, then you could be a candidate for kyphoplasty, a minimally invasive procedure that can offer immediate pain relief for some patients.

What is kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty stabilizes the fracture and restores the lost body height caused by the fracture. During surgery, the surgeon places a narrow tube through a small incision in the back. A balloon is inserted through the tube and into the vertebrae, where it is inflated to elevate the fracture. The cavity created by the balloon is then filled with a cement-like material that hardens quickly, stabilizing the bone.


Hospital stays are usually one day or less. Pain relief is immediate for some patients, while others get relief within two days. Patients can return almost immediately to their normal daily activities without the need for physical therapy or bracing.

Our services

Theodore Davies, MD, and I offer a full range of brain and spine procedures, including lumbar, thoracic and cervical fusions and laminectomy at Paducah Neurosurgical Center. Your primary care physician can make a referral if you need one of these procedures after a diagnosis.

If you have any health question, talk to a nurse 24/7 at Baptist Health Line: 270.575.2918.

  • Neurosurgeon Thomas Gruber, MD
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