Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancer Clinic
Terry Rainbow couldn’t eat.
“I couldn’t swallow, it was very painful,” said Rainbow, 65, of Girard, and a native of England. “Food would stick and come back up. I kept trying to tell myself ...
read more »
The Multidisciplinary Thoracic Cancer Clinic at The Regional Cancer Center brings together a team of specialists to provide a comprehensive approach to the evaluation and treatment of patients with cancers of the lung and chest.
The primary goals of the clinic are (1) to offer innovative diagnostic and therapeutic strategies specific to each individual patient’s diagnosis, and (2) to gather multiple clinical opinions, which would otherwise take several weeks, into a single office visits.
Developing an effective treatment plan for thoracic cancer involves input from a variety of specialists. For many patients the time from diagnosis to the start of treatment can be frustrating and lengthy.
To expedite development and implementation of a treatment plan, The Regional Cancer Center brings together a multidisciplinary team of specialists in thoracic surgery, medical oncology and radiation oncology with collaboration from pulmonology, pathology, and radiology physician specialists.
Patients are seen by a multidisciplinary team of physicians who evaluate the patient, review diagnostic testing, and meet to discuss each patient’s case to determine the best course of action for treatment. In a single visit, treatment plans involving any or all of the doctors’ specialties can be developed that meet each patient’s unique needs.
Dedicated thoracic surgeons from Hamot Medical Center and Saint Vincent Health System compliment the multidisciplinary team and hold office hours at The Regional Cancer Center several times per month. Board certified in thoracic surgery, the surgeons have a special interest in lung cancer and thoracic malignancies. Surgical procedures are performed at the hospitals. Whenever possible, minimally invasive techniques such as video-assisted thoracosopic surgery (VATS) are utilized.
Medical oncologists with special interest in lung cancer offer a full range of chemotherapy and biologic targeted therapies for all types and stages of lung cancer. Patients have access to the latest therapies and clinical trials. When appropriate, patients are placed on a clinical pathway, a disease-specific treatment strategy developed by UPMC Cancer Centers physicians, to ensure that all patients receive the same evidence-based care. Thoracic clinic director, Jan Rothman, MD, plays a key role in pathway development and ongoing review helping to ensures that each pathway remains the best and most effective treatment option available. Innovative and promising clinical trial options are pursued along with the best standard of care therapies.
Radiation oncologists at The Regional Cancer Center are experienced in the use of conventional radiotherapy, 3D radiotherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT). The Trilogy radiation delivery system used at the Center is one of the most advanced available. The Regional Cancer Center also uses positron emission tomography (PET) along with computed tomography (CT) imaging technologies when appropriate to trace the tumor through every point of the breathing cycle to more precisely target radiation during treatment. This optimizes the dose of radiation to the tumor while sparing healthy surrounding tissue from the effects of the radiation.
Stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) leverage the capability of the Center’s Trilogy radiation delivery system to treat tumors in the lung without having to make an incision. This procedure is generally reserved for people who cannot have surgery because of age, lung disease or heart disease. Trilogy radiosurgery has the capability of acquiring a CT scan of the tumor immediately before, during, and after each treatment to further ensure the accurate targeting of tumors.
A Personalized Approach
Lung cancer treatment can take a significant toll on patients and their families. To ease this burden a nurse coordinator serves as a point person for the treatment team, working with each patient and their family to guide them through every step of the diagnosis and treatment initiation. A social worker, palliative care nurse, dietician, and financial counselor are additional resources for clinic patients and information about quitting smoking is also available. The nurse coordinator reviews each patient’s history and makes appropriate appointments based on the patient’s needs and the team’s recommendations.
What to Expect At Your First Appointment
- Enter The Regional Cancer Center at the main entrance.
Reception staff will establish your patient record and verify related information.
- Plan to be at the Center for up to four hours.
You may be seen at this visit by a number of physicians, one at a time, for approximately 30-45 minutes each. During this time you may also meet with a nurse, social worker or dietician, if necessary.
- We encourage you to bring someone with you to your appointments.
A second set of ears and someone to take notes on what is discussed can be very helpful.
- Each visit will consist of a consultation and discussion.
Aspects of treatment and side effects will be reviewed in detail.
- We encourage you to ask questions.
Understanding the treatment process is the way to overcome any fears and concerns you may have.
- If you are seeing more than one physician, prior to your visit the physicians involved in your care will meet to develop a plan of treatment they agree will be the best for you.
This plan will be reviewed with you by each physician and with your input will be finalized.
- If you are seeing more than one physician, your insurance may require you to pay a co-pay for each physician seen during this single visit to the cancer center.
The patient accounting statement you receive in the mail from The RCC will detail the co-pay deductions required by your insurance plan. You may receive an additional statement from the surgeon, if applicable.
- Before you leave the nurse coordinator will review with you your plan of care and an estimated timetable for your treatment.
She will work with you to set your next appointments for treatment and answer any further questions you may have.
Smoking Cessation Resources
Services Provided by UPMC Cancer Centers
The vast majority of cancer diagnostic and treatment modalities being offered today are available at The Regional Cancer Center. For the few types of treatments not provided, the physicians at RCC will coordinate a treatment plan with specialists at UPMC Cancer Centers, one of the top academic cancer programs in the country. Effective management of more unusual cancers and coordination of any subspecialty care that may need to be provided in Pittsburgh is enhanced by close working relationships between our organizations. Our shared goal is making these instances as seamless as possible for patients, while providing as much care as possible close to home. Talk with your doctor at RCC to understand if such services may have a role in your care plan.