November 1, 2016

Sophisticated, Coordinated Cancer Care

Category: 
Cancer

As a surgeon, I know there is no diagnosis patients fear more than cancer. One patient and family remain part of my professional life; I continue to receive an annual gift when the family marks the anniversary of successful surgery to remove stomach cancer. I look forward to receiving that gift each year for the reminder that cancer is a treatable, and sometimes curable, disease.

Recently, a local paper ran a story about a man in his early sixties, who went to an area hospital because he’d become jaundiced. The hospital sent him to Boston for testing — which revealed stage 4 pancreatic cancer, a diagnosis with a five-year survival rate of just 1%. The patient had to choose either palliative chemotherapy at their hospital, which would help his symptoms but not cure the cancer, or participation in a clinical trial at Rhode Island Hospital. Clinical trials offer no guarantee of success, but the man chose the clinical trial, hoping to live for a few more months. What happened was something even his doctors called miraculous: the trial’s combination of drugs, followed by radiation, completely obliterated the tumor. The patient was declared cancer free, thanks to treatment he received right here at Lifespan.

At our Comprehensive Cancer Center we have organized our considerable resources in cancer research, diagnosis and treatment to make the most of all we have. A cornerstone of cutting-edge cancer treatment is multidisciplinary care, and we lead the state in our development of multidisciplinary cancer clinics.

Cancer takes a physical, mental, and emotional toll on patients, so we created clinics that coordinate care in one convenient setting. These clinics are unique in the region and offer screening and diagnosis; treatment that includes leading-edge radiation oncology, advanced surgical techniques, and high-tech imaging in radiology; access to investigational therapies; clinical psychiatry; nutrition counseling and support groups.

I’m proud to say we have some of the world’s experts in all aspects of cancer treatment and also some of the most advanced technology — particularly in radiation oncology — that is extremely precise, often resulting in fewer treatments and fewer side effects. We offer Accuboost, a distinctive technology that couples mammography with a highly focused beam of radiation, and TrueBeam and Perfexion — two of the most advanced technologies available for treating tumors in the brain, spine, liver, prostate, and other areas.

The Comprehensive Cancer Center is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, which evaluated our program against rigid standards for accreditation as an Integrated Network Cancer Program. The survey team found no deficiencies, and our program received several commendations.   

The story of the patient treated for pancreatic cancer illustrates the value that research adds to our cancer treatment options. Lifespan’s oncology clinical research department collaborates with the Brown University Oncology Group and conducts a variety of clinical trials – through which quantum leaps in cancer treatment and survival are made. We don’t perform miracles but we set the stage for them by bringing together exceptional research and clinical trials, brilliant cancer specialists and staff, and resources organized so patients receive sophisticated, coordinated care.

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