August 19, 2013

Gordon Hospital’s Tumor Board proves to be asset to cancer patients

Submitted by Gordon Hospital

CALHOUN — If two minds are greater than one, just imagine what an entire room of physicians and health care providers can accomplish.

That’s the premise behind Gordon Hospital’s Tumor Board, according to Lanell Jacobs, director of Oncology Services for the hospital. The board is comprised of surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, primary care physicians, and other clinical professionals that treat or care for cancer patients.  

“The definition of cancer is simply the abnormal growth of cells somewhere in the body,” Jacobs explains. “But rarely are two cases of cancer alike.”

While research has led to many treatment advances for cancer, every patient and every cancer is unique, she adds.

“Sometimes our physicians come across a cancer that isn’t responding to treatment as expected or they have a patient with a very rare form of cancer,” Jacobs says. “Armed with all the test results and other information, a physician presents the case to the other board members and together they discuss the best treatment options for the patient. It’s an amazing meeting of the minds that has tremendous results. This discussion results in a coordinated plan of care that allows for the best possible outcome.”

One success example involved a 70-year-old woman who developed a persistent cough. A CT scan revealed a tumor in one of her lungs. A subsequent biopsy determined it to be cancer.

“Because she had a previous history of cancer that was treated successfully, it was not immediately clear if this was a reoccurrence of the previous cancer or a new cancer,” Jacobs explains. “It is very important to know for sure because the treatment is very different.”

With her medical history information and results of her most recent test results in hand, her physician presented her case to the tumor board.

“After careful consideration and discussion, the board decided that this was a new cancer and not a reoccurrence,” Jacobs adds. “Treatment for the new cancer began and today she is doing very well.”

 Gordon Hospital Tumor Registrars Lori Williams and Thomas Herring are responsible for compiling all of the diagnosis data needed during the meetings, including X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and pathology reports.

“Unlike other diseases or illnesses, when a person has cancer they are under the care of several doctors,” Jacobs says. “The monthly gathering of this board is an opportunity for all of these medical disciplines to come together in one room at the same time to plan treatment and care.”

The meetings, held at the Harris Radiation Therapy Center at Gordon Hospital, also satisfy an American College of Surgeons requirement for Gordon Hospital to retain its Certified Cancer Program certification through the Commission on Cancer.

“It’s a huge benefit not only for the patient and our cancer program here at Gordon Hospital, but for our physicians as well,” Jacobs says. “The tumor board provides an environment that encourages informed discussion and recommendations based on sound scientific evidence. The physicians learn from each other and receive education hours for participating.”