Dr. Arica Hirsch, medical director of Illinois CyberKnife, is an expert in the treatment of tumors throughout the body including prostate, lung and brain malignancies. She often volunteers her time to spread awareness of CyberKnife® treatment and is involved in breast cancer awareness programs and Continuing Medical Education seminars.
Learn more about her experience since joining Illinois CyberKnife.
What first drew you to radiation oncology?
My interest in radiation oncology was influenced by my participation in the care of patients with cancer during medical school. I loved the interaction with patients, characterized by depth of intimacy and sincerity, as well as the challenge associated with beating this disease. From an intellectual perspective, I greatly enjoy the combination of technologic advancement, creativity and continued intellectual stimulation that this field affords.
What do you like best about your job?
I love to participate in the care of patients. I find my patients to be extremely inspirational in their fight against cancer. As technology has advanced, I am excited about the expanded treatment options in my field of radiation oncology and the remarkable results that can be achieved.
Describe one of your most memorable experiences since you began working at Illinois CyberKnife.
I cared for an elderly patient with a localized pancreatic cancer, who had limited treatment options on the basis of her age. I offered her CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery as an alternative to chemotherapy and the more common daily radiation therapy over five to six weeks. She underwent theÊtreatment without negative effects, and her overall function improved considerably within a short period. I remain excited about the opportunity such treatment provides in shortening the course of therapy, with minimal negative effects, with early and durable improvement in symptoms.
What do you feel is the most important thing that Illinois CyberKnife offers?
CyberKnife offers an alternative treatment approach for many different types of treatments, which 1) reduces time of treatment course to just one to five treatments, 2) greatly minimizes side effects, 3) delivers higher doses of radiation to tumors with the potential for greater tumor response and 4) is noninvasive. It maximizes therapeutic efficacy with quality of life, which is so important for our patients.
How do you stay abreast of the latest medical developments?
I stay abreast of the latest medical developments in a number of ways, including reading medical journals, attending medical conferences and collaborating with my partners and colleagues within the oncology field.