Renowned Cancer Expert Returns to Rhode Island, Joins Lifespan

Don Dizon, MD

Don Dizon, MD, was recently appointed as the head of women’s cancers at the Lifespan Cancer Institute and director of medical oncology at Rhode Island Hospital. His research interests include novel treatments of women’s cancers, personalized therapies for women’s cancers, and issues related to survivorship, such as sexual health for cancer survivors.

Why are you excited to join the Lifespan Cancer Institute?

Dr. Dizon: It’s an opportunity to develop something wonderful for cancer patients in Rhode Island. It’s an opportunity to look beyond the diagnosis and help patients embrace life beyond cancer. I’m working with really amazing clinicians who take a more thoughtful understanding of survivorship and make sure patients have access to resources in Rhode Island so no one suffers from a cancer diagnosis. That’s too good an opportunity to pass up.

What are you looking forward to doing at the Lifespan Cancer Institute?

Dr. Dizon: I look forward to exploring new therapeutic treatment options, growing clinical trials, and expanding horizons on research. I want to put a spotlight on our doctors, so they become as nationally recognized as they are locally. I want to help get the Lifespan Cancer Institute on the radar for national organizations.

To refer a patient to Dr. Dizon or for more information on the Lifespan Cancer Institute, please call 1-844-222-2881.

Cutting-Edge Technique Developed to Reduce Treatment Toxicity

A novel technique to improve the toxicity of breast cancer treatment is currently being pioneered at our hospitals. Noninvasive image-guided breast brachytherapy is a new approach to accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI), a technique that reduces the impact of radiation treatment on the patient by focusing on only the surgical site, not the whole breast. Led by Dr. Jaroslaw Hepel, this developing technique would utilize radiation therapy before surgery, not after, and would target the tumor itself, rather than the surgical cavity. The breast would be immobilized with compression and treated when compressed, using imaging throughout the treatment. The benefits of this approach would include a reduced treatment area, more precise treatment, and less breast tissue exposed to radiation.

To refer a patient to Dr. Hepel, please call 1-844-222-2881. The Lifespan Cancer Institute is continually developing a wide range of research and clinical trials, many of which are unique to our program. Learn more about our current trials and how to refer a patient for participation.

Physician Leads New Program for Young Breast Cancer Patients

Mary Lopresti, DO

Mary L. Lopresti, DO, is a hematology/oncology specialist. She leads the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Program, a new service and support program at the Lifespan Cancer Institute.

What is the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Program?

Dr. Lopresti: The Young Women’s Breast Cancer Program is for women 42 years old and under who are living with or have survived breast cancer, and who may still be receiving treatment. We recently held our first Young Women’s Breast Cancer Night in August, where three speakers came and spoke on issues relevant to young breast cancer patients, including sexuality, exercise and decreasing your risk of cancer, and stress reduction. We’re hoping that this becomes a yearly event, with smaller groups meeting monthly.

Why did you start the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Program?

Dr. Lopresti: Young women have unique needs and issues that other cancer patients may not have. Young women with breast cancer are more likely to suffer from depression, they may have fertility issues at a time when they are trying to start a family, and they may deal with issues related to sexuality. We want to address these unique issues up front.

What are the goals of the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Program?

Dr. Lopresti: Each young woman would come into the multidisciplinary clinic like any other patient, and meet with her team of different specialists. We take a baseline intake of each patient before any treatment or chemotherapy and monitor them over time to make sure we keep the rest of their treatment process aligned with their unique issues and concerns. We want to develop more research trials for young women. We are working to make insurance more accessible to cover fertility treatments for patients in Rhode Island. We are also working to get cold caps available for our patients. These caps are worn during chemotherapy to help prevent or reduce hair loss – an issue that can greatly affect the esteem and life of a young breast cancer patient.

For information on the new program for young women's breast cancer or to refer a patient to Dr. Lopresti, please call the Lifespan Cancer Institute at 1-844-222-2881.

Dedication is the Best Medicine

The high caliber of care at the Lifespan Cancer Institute is due not only to our physicians, but to our dedicated staff and leadership. Sue Korber, MS, RN, helps ensure that every patient receives the most complete care from diagnosis through recovery.

The high caliber of care at the Lifespan Cancer Institute is due not only to our physicians, but to our dedicated staff and leadership. Sue Korber, MS, RN, helps ensure that every patient receives the most complete care from diagnosis through recovery. Sue has been with Lifespan for 32 years. Starting as a staff nurse in hematology/oncology, she then became director of ambulatory care at The Miriam Hospital. Four years ago, Sue joined the LCI as administrative director. In March of this year, she was appointed vice president of the LCI.

What is your role as vice president of the LCI?

I am responsible for analyzing and implementing strategic objectives for our program. The LCI has the highest standard of evidence-based care and I implement initiatives to make sure that gold standard of care is universal across all sites of the LCI.

Why do you enjoy coming to work every day at the LCI?

I love coming to work and feeling that we’ve made a difference. I love the people I work with. We’re part of an ever-changing and growing clinical service that evolves nearly every 5 years. I love the challenge of being part of something that’s constantly evolving. The people in the cancer field are so focused on staying highly educated and giving the best care possible.

What sets LCI apart from other cancer institutions?

We have an obligation as the largest cancer care provider in the state to provide the best possible access and care for patients. We are constantly looking at quality metrics focused on patient feedback that we receive from our customer satisfaction surveys. We also have a Patient and Family Advisory Council at each site, made up of a combination of patients, family and staff. They have been our right-hand partners in improving the patient experience, hearing patients’ voices, and implementing new initiatives – they are key to the LCI moving forward.

What is unique about patient care and the patient experience at the LCI?

Patients can all expect the same high standard of care and experience across all our sites. Our patients are cared for by a team – physicians, nurses, navigators, social workers, and more. With our multidisciplinary clinics, patients receive individualized care and never feel like they are without resources. We take measures to increase access to our care. We have a phone triage center, so patients can all call one number and get a live operator. We have expanded hours at our sites and added Saturday hours for two of our sites. Our goal is to be the first responder to patients and to keep them out of the emergency room, because the best care is here at our hospitals. We also follow an oncology medical home model, part of our comprehensive patient-centered approach to care.

What are some exciting advances happening at the LCI?

In addition to welcoming some renowned cancer specialists to our team, in March, Lifespan formed a strategic alliance with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. This alliance enhances our ability to provide state-of-the-art cancer care with increased access to clinical trials and shared care for bone marrow transplant patients.

With individualized patient care through our multidisciplinary clinics, increased access to our care through the phone triage center and expanded hours, and the strategic alliance with Dana Farber, the LCI is constantly striving to stay at the forefront of cancer treatments and provide the best possible care for our patients and their families.

To refer a patient to the Lifespan Cancer Institute or to speak with Sue Korber, please call 1-844-222-2881.

Breast Cancer Clinic Offers Comprehensive, Award-Winning Care

The Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic, a program of the Lifespan Cancer Institute, takes a comprehensive approach to the diagnosis, treatment, and support of patients with breast cancer. We bring together nationally recognized physicians from a range of specialties, all with the highest expertise.

The Anne C. Pappas Center for Breast Imaging offers patients full-service breast screenings, diagnostic examinations and procedures. Our commitment to providing the most advanced diagnostic options earned the center a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence designation from the American College of Radiology.

Our multidisciplinary teams include many dedicated specialists—surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses, psychiatrists, pathologists, experts in genetics, cancer research and survivorship, and more. Physicians involved in a patient’s care meet weekly to discuss the unique circumstances of the patient’s condition and preferences, and provide an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatments at the Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and surgery. Patients are referred to a genetics clinic if necessary and are offered access to promising new treatments as participants in clinical trials. To provide complete care from diagnosis to recovery, we offer supportive programs such as rehabilitation therapy; a lymphedema management program; therapies; survivorship programs, support groups; and counseling. Breast health navigators – registered nurses trained in oncology – work in conjunction with treating physicians to guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

We offer the same level of care and treatment options across the Lifespan system. We have multiple locations, including Newport Hospital and the Lifespan Ambulatory Care Center in East Greenwich, to provide our patients convenient access to care, close to home. 

For more information on the services provided at the Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic or to refer a patient to the Lifespan Cancer Institute, please call 1-844-222-2881.