Going Nuclear

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Radiation oncologist Dr. Paul Page came to his specialty in an unusual way.

DrPaulPage“I didn’t really have any medical influences growing up,” says Dr. Paul Page, a radiation oncologist at East Jefferson General Hospital. “There were no doctors in my family, but my best friend ended up going to medical school. Over the years, I became more and more interested in medicine, and more and more interested in helping people.”

After earning his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and spending seven years as an officer on a Navy nuclear submarine, he moved to Silicon Valley. “I thought, ‘Maybe I can use my engineering background to help make some kind of medical device,’” he says. “Then I decided, ‘You only live once. I want to do what I enjoy.’”

He went back to school, following up a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from the University of California, Davis, with a medical degree from UC San Francisco. “Everything directed me toward medicine, and even more toward radiation oncology,” he says. “My nuclear engineering background in the Navy was my introduction to the effects of radiation on cells, and how radiation can cause cancer and cure cancer.”

Dr. Page completed his radiation oncology residency at California Pacific Medical Center. In 2010, he joined East Jefferson General Hospital and became a certified member of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center Physician Network.

At East Jefferson, Dr. Page works with a thoughtful, compassionate team to offer inpatient and outpatient care for cancer patients. “That is probably the main reason I love working in this department,” he says. “From the front desk staff, to the therapists, to the radiation oncology nurses — they’re dedicated, they’re professional, they love what they’re doing.”

Newly diagnosed cancer patients undergo a treatment-planning scan to determine if radiation will be an effective treatment. “I work with a physicist to plan the radiation treatments, taking care to radiate the tumor to the dose we want and avoid critical normal tissues as much as possible,” Dr. Page says. “I also see patients who are currently under treatment, to evaluate any side effects from therapy and see how their tumors are responding.”

While radiation treatments themselves are painless, side effects can vary depending on the type of cancer and treatment plan; for example, breast and prostate cancer patients may experience few side effects, while head- and neck-cancer patients often have a more difficult experience. “Radiation treatments generally take a few minutes during the day,” Dr. Page explains. “Many patients continue to work through the treatment. We always keep the patient’s comfort in mind.”

In addition to attending conferences and keeping up with the latest research and standards of care in radiation oncology, Dr. Page is keeping an eye on the link between human papillomavirus, or HPV, and head and neck cancer. As smoking rates have declined, head and neck cancer rates in older patients have also gone down — but Dr. Page is seeing an increase of these types of cancers in young men who have HPV. “It’s a growing risk factor in head and neck cancer for some reason, especially in younger male patients,” he says. “There’s a vaccine out for HPV now, and I think that’s an important thing to consider as parents.”

DOCTOR INFO
Paul Page, M.D.
East Jefferson Radiation Oncology
4204 Houma Blvd. Suite 100
Metairie, LA 70006
(504) 503-5139

MEDICAL SCHOOL: University of California, San Francisco

RESIDENCY: California Pacific Medical Center, Radiation Oncology

BOARD CERTIFICATIONS: Radiation Oncology