Cancer answers

Cancer answers

Huntington Hospital, Arcadia Methodist and a host of local medical facilities feature comprehensive care options

By Jana J. Monji 01/21/2010

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Few families have not been touched by cancer. But the good news is that with early detection, more and more patients these days are surviving longer. What may make treatment a little bit frustrating is navigating the area’s growing medical care system, and some area hospitals, such as Arcadia Methodist Hospital of Southern California and Huntington Hospital, have made things easier by centralizing their programs.
 
According to Maury Kulwin, executive director for ambulatory and cancer services for Huntington, the hospital’s senior managers, board of directors and medical leadership “felt it would be easier and more satisfying for patients with cancer to have all the facilities under one roof.” And starting this month, the medical center will do just that, with all the cancer-related services being offered the Huntington Hospital Cancer Center. 
 
Along with Huntington and Arcadia’s Methodist, area residents can also go to City of Hope in Duarte, or farther west to UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, or USC’s Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. 
 
In February, the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center will open in Burbank at Providence St. John Medical Center. Roy E. Disney, a former Tournament of Roses grand marshal, died of stomach cancer on Dec. 16, and his uncle Walt died of lung cancer in 1966.
 
Also serving the San Gabriel Valley is the South Pasadena Cancer Center, a 22,000-square-foot outpatient facility — one of the few physician-operated cancer centers in the Los Angeles area. Owned and operated by the California Cancer Specialists Medical Group, the center is one of the largest employers in South Pasadena and provides inpatient and surgical services at local hospitals, such as the City of Hope and Huntington. 
 
Last spring, the Huntington Hospital Cancer Center, which handles up to 700 patients a year, was awarded an outstanding achievement award from the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer (CoC). Established in 1996, the center includes the Constance G. Zahorik Breast Center, which is dedicated to overall breast health, and the Helen and Jim Gamble Radiation Oncology Center for radiation treatment. That facility also has a prostate cancer program for education, care and screening, as well as a cancer data center that collects and maintains information on tumors in order to help recognize community and nationwide trends. Here, nurse navigators help patients understand the complexities of the health care system and assist with scheduling consultations and procedures. 
 
At the Zahorik Center, a certified beautician is available to help patients feel better about themselves after they’ve lost hair due to chemotherapy. Every day there is a multidisciplinary physician conference where a group of cancer specialists discuss the best ways to go with treatment, with patients receiving recommendations from their doctors on the best possible procedures. 
 
The Huntington Cancer Center also has strong physician partnerships with specialists from City of Hope, USC and UCLA. Kulwin emphasized that the center wants to be both welcoming and comforting for those individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer and endeavors to address psycho-social issues through support groups, as well as medical and management issues.  
 
Because research has shown that acupuncture can relieve nausea and pain in cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, beginning in February the center will also have a medical acupuncturist. 
 
Methodist Hospital, which deals with about 600 cancer patients yearly, also has its own cancer resource center. According to hospital spokeswoman Gina Marie Farino, Arcadia Methodist has been offering a comprehensive cancer treatment program since 1974. In 2007, the hospital received a three-year approval with commendations in five categories from the American College of Surgeons’ CoC. Their center includes a Return to Wellness program for breast cancer patients, which provides individualized nutritional and physical fitness plans for recovery.
 
Also in Arcadia, Arcadia Radiology Medical Group performs on-site breast biopsies and, through a new program, Vision Reach, allows referring physicians to make online appointments with specialists. Their doctors work with Methodist, San Gabriel Valley Medical Center and Alhambra Hospital Medical Center.
 
For those diagnosed with cancer, recovery will be more convenient than ever, because the medical community works “hand-in-glove” with nurses and doctors “to understand the needs of the cancer community — patients and family members,” said Kulwin. 

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