Q&A: Cancer Care
with Dr. John M. Smyles, board-certified radiation oncologist at
See Dr. Smyles on youtube.com/MercyHealthPhilly.
Computer-driven precision fascinates John M. Smyles, MD, radiation oncologist at Nazareth Hospital and a member of the Jefferson Kimmel Cancer Center physician network. He combines high-tech with a personal touch to treat cancer.
Q. What excites you most in your field?
For me, it’s the way we can precisely target a tumor. With a sophisticated technique called image-guided radiation therapy, I can see exactly where a tumor is and aim the radiation beam right at it.
Q. How does this precision translate into patient benefits?
For one, I can use more effective, higher radiation doses, since I’m treating a very small, precise area—just the tumor—and can exclude the normal, healthy tissue. A smaller treatment area means reduced side effects for my patients.
Q. What’s a typical day like in your department?
Really, there is no typical day. That is partly because we treat every patient as an individual. It’s also because we take pride in our family-like environment. Of course we deal with the latest and greatest information, but we also make time to be a friend—laugh with the patients, listen to their stories and provide the support they need.
Q. Do patients appreciate this caring environment?
They do! You see it in our annual Cancer Survivors Day. We’ve successfully treated many patients over the years, so it’s a big turnout—with a lot of reasons to celebrate.