“I chose oncology because it was such a challenge, “We’ve made so much progress and I’m happy being part of that.”
Dr. Daniel Fass finds great professional satisfaction at his Theall Road medical practice- the Institute for Image Guided Radio Therapy- treating patients with lung, breast, head, neck, throat, prostrate and other cancers with state of the art radiation treatment.
“It was a great opportunity,” the Greenwich resident said about his decision to locate in Rye after a chief residency at New York University and a fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, “an excellent opportunity for people who needed service.” Before opening his practice in Rye, Fass was head of Bendheim Center at Greenwich Hospital from 1992 to 2009.
Four years after his arrival, radiation oncologist Fass has touched the lives of more than 1,000 patients and pushed the frontier of cancer treatment at his Rye office with WestMed on Theall Road.
“The practice, from the very beginning, has been successful,” said Fass. “It has filled a niche not being served by other practices.”
One of the people in that niche was Rye resident Sarah Suplee, a 62-year-old retired graphic artist. When she was diagnosed, doctors told her the cancer “had come out of the milk duct and was not good.” She was treated by Fass and his team. He says his patient is doing very well now.
“You can’t not develop a bond with your patients,” said Fass. “The therapy takes over five weeks and you get to know them very well.’
Fass and his team, oncologists Beth Allen Moore and Rajni Singh, run the only facility in Westchester County offering Tomo Therapy Hi-Art treatment to breast cancer patients.
“There are probably a couple hundred practices in the country that offer it,” said the doctor.
In fact, Fass has had an instrumental role in refining the now eight-year-old Tomo platform for cancer treatment into the new Tomo Hi-Art protocol just over a year ago.
“[Radiation oncology] requires a very specialized training,” Fass calls it “four years of study devoted to the science and art of delivering traditional drugs and radiation.”
The differences between the old and new treatment techniques are “highly technical.” But the goal of the cancer treatment strategy, which requires equipment worth an estimated $3 million, is to reduce the level of radiation to the lungs and breast during treatment. Fass says the new method also has fewer side effects than the earlier strategy.
“Since adopting this technology, we have been able to treat many patients we simply could not have treated before—those with complex disease, or those who may have received radiation previously,” said Fass. “We are able to design a more optimal plan for each individual patient, depending on their unique anatomy and clinical needs.”
Though relatively new, Tomo Hi-Art is not an experimental enterprise. The treatment is widely accepted by the medical profession and health insurance companies will pay claims for the treatment. While there is not a substantial history to measure the treatment’s effectiveness against, Fass said it does work and is possibly better than the older Tomo method.
Tomo, Greek for slice, is an effective technique that combines repeated imaging and re-calculation of radiation doses to individually tailor the course of treatment. Ideal candidates are those who have recently had lumpectomies and are referred by their general practitioner to the Rye WestMed practice. But does it work?
“It’s too early to say, it’s only been 4 years,” said Dr. Fass. “We are encouraged by preliminary results.”