You Need an Experienced Head and Neck Cancer Doctor

An experienced radiation oncologist can save you from head and neck cancer.

An experienced radiation oncologist can save you from head and neck cancer.

A landmark study of over 6,200 patients with head and neck cancer treated with radiation therapy revealed a startling result.  The cure rates increased by 21% – a huge number – for those patients treated by an experienced radiation oncology doctor. Dr. I.  J.  Boero and colleagues from the University of California, San Diego published their study in the March 1 issue of the prestigious Journal of Clinical Oncology (J Clin Oncol 2016; 34:684-690).

Their conclusion was clear; high volume radiation oncology doctors did better for their patients than low volume doctors. Volume indicates how many patients they treat in a year with a cancer of the head and neck region.


If you ask me, it is not a surprising conclusion.  What was surprising was the magnitude of the difference.  Head and neck cancer patients have a 21% better chance of survival if they are  treated by an experienced head and neck radiation oncology physician.  The second surprising conclusion was that the benefit is not seen with patients who are treated with conventional radiation therapy performed at many hospitals. This concludes the argument that the better result with high-volume radiation oncology doctors are not due to the experience of other team members, including the medical oncologist, nurses, speech pathologist, or the radiation therapists who actually set up the patients and treat them on a day-to-day basis.  IMRT takes much more skill and experience on the part of the radiation oncology doctor than conventional head and neck radiotherapy.


So experience counts. A lot.  Finding an experienced radiation oncology doctor is the key first step in successful treatment of your head and neck cancer.  When seeking a physician to treat you, ask them how many patients do they treat with this type of cancer. For instance, many cancer centers today are joined with urologists, so their focus is prostate cancer. Many are attached to a neuroscience center, so their focus is brain and spine. Seek a physician who has experience with head and neck cancers.

At First Dayton Cancer Care, we have the most experienced, high-volume radiation oncology doctors in Southwest Ohio.  If you have any questions about your head and neck cancer, please feel free to call Dr. Edward Hughes or Dr. Donald Marger at 855-Dayton 1.

Turning tragedy of cancer into a mission of hope

A cancer survivor from Springboro turned his tragedy into a special mission of hope for other survivors.


Dave and Diane Scharff with Buzz and Chloe.

Dave Scharff was diagnosed with stage II cancer of the tonsil on Christmas Eve 2009. This avid motorcyclist and investment manager underwent surgery and 6 weeks of radiation therapy. Dave says, “my life was abruptly interrupted. It was very scary to be diagnosed with the “C” word. However, I have a strong faith and was supported by friends and family. I was also surprised by the support I received from my medical team at First Dayton Cancer Care. The way they cared for me gave me true hope that I would be alright.” This support changed his life and the lives of others.

Dave says that during his weeks of radiation treatment “God planted a vision in my heart for a cancer ministry that would support individuals and families dealing with this disease.” As a result CancerHope at SouthBrook Christian Church was born.

To date, this ministry has used over 250 volunteers to serve more than 200 survivors through prayers, cards, meals and gifts. These survivors are from 15 different states and many are not members of the church. This mission is to serve all cancer survivors and to support their caregivers regardless of any religious affiliation.

Dave knows that the love and support he received during his treatment were a big part of his recovery. “It impacted me by the way they genuinely cared for me as an individual and about what I was going through. It was different than going to a doctor’s office where the employees approach their work just as a job. I still have a genuine affinity for everyone at First Dayton Cancer Care.”


Dave with the SouthBrook Cancer Hope team at the annual Cancer Crush 5K event to support the mission.

His advice for anyone with cancer is “to surround yourself with positive people. Find an experienced medical team that offers genuine care and enjoys their work. Allow your friends and family to help carry this burden with you. You can’t do this alone. Seek out the support you need.” CancerHope is the perfect example. Sometimes just knowing that someone out there is thinking about you can have a big impact on your heart and give you the hope you need.”

Dayton Doctor Stands His Ground to Fight For His Patients

Local cancer doctor, Ed Hughes, MD, PhD, feels that his cancer patients have rights. They have a right to the best medical care possible. They have a right to choose a treatment that is best for them. They have a right to superior health care at a reasonable cost. They have the right to treatment done quickly. They have the right to quality of life. They have a right to stay in Dayton for world class medical care.

First Dayton Cancer Care was opened in 2003 because Dr. Hughes believes cancer patients have the right to the best. He is an expert in Radiation Oncology. He uses radiation technology to destroy cancer cells throughout the body. It is virtually painless to the patient. “Radiation therapy is all we do. This is not a side service to us. I have a team of experts. This is our passion,” states Dr. Hughes.

Dayton has some of the most advanced cancer fighting tools in the world thanks to Dr. Hughes. He has been the driving force to bring advances like robotic seed implants for prostate cancer, Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and the CyberKnife Stereotactic Radiation Therapy to our city. He has always been on the forefront of these medical breakthroughs. He was one of the first oncologists in the country to use Stereotactic Radiation Therapy. He makes financial investments, often foregoing profits, because he wants his patients to have world class cancer treatments right here at home. Hughes states, “People ask me all the time, ‘If the CyberKnife is such phenomenal technology then why doesn’t every hospital have one?’ I can honestly tell them that is not a profitable service line. It is simply better medicine. And I believe as a physician, my most important mission is to save lives using every possible tool.”

We asked Dr. Hughes why he chose to leave the hospital and open his own center in today’s challenging health care market. “When I worked at the hospital I was always being told what I could and could not do for my patients. Owning my own practice allows me to care for them as individual people. I can do so much more this way.” For example, First Dayton is the only center in the region to actually pick up patients for their treatments. It is a free car service. Mary of Centerville tells us, “It has been a true blessing to have such fine people drive me to my daily appointments. My kids all work. I don’t know how I would have made it otherwise.”

When you have been told you have cancer, you want answers immediately; so Dr. Hughes will see patients within 1-3 days of their first phone call. Dr. Hughes often spends over an hour with his patients and their family at their initial visit. “I want to learn about this person. I want to present all of the treatment options and help the patient decide what will give them the best chance to beat their cancer. I want to answer all of their questions. I couldn’t spend this much time when I worked at the hospital. People with cancer are scared. Patients want hope.”