Helping others with ever more sophisticated radiation oncology tools

Aaron Spalding, M.D., radiation oncologist, returned to his hometown with specialized training to help his neighbors who have cancer.

Aaron C. Spalding, M.D., is a radiation oncologist with a straightforward approach to medicine.

“I was raised in a way to try to use the blessings in my life to help others. For me, that means serving patients in our region who are unfairly afflicted by cancer,” Dr. Spalding said.

A Louisville native, Dr. Spalding specializes in brain and spine tumors as well as pediatric cancers. He is part of the Head and Neck Tumor Program at Norton Cancer Institute. The integrated care program gives patients coordinated, individualized treatment plans.

Leaps forward in cancer treatment

Recently, an explosion of knowledge and treatment options are helping more patients, many times for cancers that previously could not be treated, according to Dr. Spalding.

He added that the machines delivering radiation therapy also have become increasingly more sophisticated. That means more precise doses of radiation and fewer side effects.

“What’s been amazing is the increasing specificity of these machines,” Dr. Spalding said. “The amount of normal tissue we irradiate is very, very low now. We can now irradiate something the size of a grain of rice without damaging the surrounding tissue.”

A new linear accelerator at Norton Cancer Institute – Brownsboro can treat a tumor with accuracy down to less than 1 millimeter — about the thickness of a credit card.

Dr. Spalding joined Norton Cancer Institute in 2009. In addition to the care he provides as a radiation oncologist, he adds research expertise to Norton Cancer Institute’s clinical trials program.

Dr. Spalding practices at Norton Cancer Institute – Brownsboro, the institute’s downtown campus and at radiation centers around the Louisville area. Earlier this year, he was named executive medical director of Norton Cancer Institute.

Norton Cancer Institute

Norton Cancer Institute offers seven outpatient locations, three radiation centers and multiple infusion centers across Greater Louisville and Southern Indiana. Same-day appointments are available for new patients.

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Call (502) 629-HOPE (4673)

Louisville native brings advanced training home

Dr. Spalding returned to Louisville after earning a medical degree and a doctorate in pharmacology from the University of Colorado, Aurora. His postdoctoral fellowship, during his residency at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, focused on combining experimental cancer therapies with radiation.

Dr. Spalding also completed a pediatric radiation oncology fellowship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

When he is not caring for patients, Dr. Spalding said family comes first. He enjoys coaching his three children in sports. His 14-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter play basketball, and his 8-year-old son runs cross-country.

“That’s a great way to spend time with them, teach them some things and get to know our community,” said Dr. Spalding, who competed in the decathlon at the University of Michigan.

As a physician, Dr. Spalding said the best part of his job is learning about his patients.

“The beauty of it is helping them try to be the best version of themselves. Even if they have cancer, cancer is a small part of who they are,” Dr. Spalding said, adding that he always wants to treat the whole patient.

“We want to get rid of the cancer, but we want to make sure the rest to the patient is OK,” he said. “There are so many ways to make a difference.”

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