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Cancer Patients Receive Special Attention at Howard County General

For Immediate Release
January 19, 2007
Sharon Sopp

Cancer Patients Receive Special Attention at Howard County General

Columbia, MD – Cancer patients can benefit from having their cases reviewed and discussed by a multi-disciplinary team, according to a recent study by University of Michigan breast cancer surgeon Dr. Michael Sabel. The study noted that 52 percent of patients whose original diagnosis and treatment recommendations were taken to a multidisciplinary team were advised to make one or more changes in their treatment.

Howard County General Hospital takes a proactive approach to this team concept, providing just such a forum for every new breast cancer case diagnosed at the hospital. Detailed discussion of each newly diagnosed breast cancer patient takes place by a multi-disciplinary team at weekly Breast Tumor Board meetings. Participants include medical and radiation oncology, surgery, pathology, plastic surgery, social work, genetic counseling, complementary medicine and breast radiology. The team then provides a treatment recommendation to the patient’s physician. As a result, the patient is provided the opportunity to receive a “second opinion” without the need to seek it out on her own.

“The review by a variety of specialists offers an opportunity for more in-depth discussion and debate about the details of each patient from different clinical viewpoints,” said Dr. Nicholas Koutrelakos. “That dialogue helps the team recommend the best treatment option for that individual’s case.”

“Most hospitals with tumor boards are only able to discuss difficult or unusual cases,” comments Tina Beerman, manager of the hospital’s Center for Breast Care and facilitator of the Tumor Board sessions. “Here at HCGH, every patient’s case is discussed at least once. There is an increased sense of collaboration and coordination of care when this approach is used from the moment a breast cancer diagnosis is made. The patient can feel confident that the communication needed for the best plan of care is taking place between all of the healthcare providers she may see. This has proven to be a major benefit to the patient as she moves through her treatment and beyond.”

Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine since 1998 is a 208-bed, not-for-profit, health care provider located in Columbia, Maryland. Serving the community since 1973, the hospital, with a professional staff of more than 800 physicians and allied health professionals representing 67 medical specialties and sub-specialties and a workforce of nearly 1,700, has grown into a comprehensive, acute-care medical center that treats a full range of conditions from neonatal care to oncology and outpatient care to critical care.