Thursday, April 19, 2007
Treatments are discussed at Cancer Conferences

By Anthony Policastro, M.D

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) has a formal accreditation process for cancer programs in hospitals. Part of the requirement for accreditation is to hold cancer conferences. At these conferences, patient treatments are discussed. Sometimes this includes discussion about patients with a recent diagnosis of cancer. Sometimes it includes discussion about patients with a difficult to treat older cancer. The ACS has certain required physicians who must attend the conference. Radiologists are expected to attend. They give information on the various tests that were used to diagnose the cancer. The X-rays are reviewed at the conference. Surgeons are expected to attend. They give information on making the diagnosis of cancer. They give information on planning the surgical treatment of cancer. Pathologists are expected to attend. They give information on the tissue that was reviewed to make the diagnosis of cancer. They usually will show the actual slides of the cancer to the audience. Medical Oncologists are expected to attend. They give information on planning the medical treatment of cancer. This usually involves a discussion of chemotherapy. Radiation Oncologists are expected to attend. They give information on planning radiation therapy for the cancer. In addition to the medical aspects of care, there are a variety of other individuals who attend the conference. These individuals include a variety of people. For example, the dietitian may provide input on the patient's nutritional status. The social worker might provide input on the patient's financial status. There are a variety of other attendees. The goal is to get information from as many experts as possible to provide a fully coordinated treatment plan. Most of the time, the treatment is fairly straightforward. Certain types of cancer require surgery. Certain types of cancer require chemotherapy. Certain types of cancer require radiation therapy. Discussions about these patients are fairly clear-cut. Other patients might require a combination of therapy. In these cases the discussion includes several aspects. One is which therapies should be used. A second is what order should the therapies be given in. A third is related to how sick the patient is. Some patients with bad heart or lung disease tolerate some treatments better than others. When everyone agrees upon the type of therapy, the next step is simple. The treating physician will meet with the patient and explain the suggested therapy. However, it is not always clear as to which therapy is the best one. Sometimes, there are advantages and disadvantages to the different types of therapy. This becomes a little more complicated. In those instances, the treating physician needs to explain those options to the patient. That can be a difficult decision for the patient. He/she does not have a lot of knowledge about medicine. For that reason, they often rely on the physician to help make that decision. It is sometimes not easy for the physician as well. Therefore, the goal is for it to be a joint decision. The advantages and disadvantages need to be discussed in partnership. That is the best way to consider all the alternatives. The ACS has set up the program like this on purpose. They realize that there is not always just one way to treat cancer. By having a cancer conference, all the experts can be in the room for the discussion. The goal is that putting all those heads together, the patient will benefit from a plan that has been carefully thought out ahead of time.

Delaware's receives good grades for Stockpile preparation
Delaware's Division of Public Health received a 94 percent average on its Strategic National Stockpile preparedness assessment released Feb. 28 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The federal Strategic National Stockpile is a supply of essential medications and health equipment available to states during a disaster. The SNS contains more than 100 specialized containers of bulk oral antibiotics, bandages, intravenous medications and antidotes that states would repackage into individual doses. DPH's ratings are as follows:
Developing a stockpile plan -100%
Management of stockpile -92%
Requesting stockpile -100%
Tactical communication -100%
Public info & communication -92%
Security -90%
Receipt, storage and staging -96%
Controlling inventory -92%
Repackaging medications -100%
Distribution of medications -86%
Dispensing prophylaxis - 94%
Treatment center coordination -100%
Training exercise/evaluation -100%
DPH partnerships with the state's pharmacists, Delaware State Police, Delaware National Guard, City of Wilmington, City of Dover, Department of Safety and Homeland Security, and Delaware Emergency Management Agency are crucial in managing the transportation, security, storage and dispensing of this national asset. The CDC team met with DPH program managers and partners in determining the grades.

Life Line Screening
Painless, non-invasive ultrasound technology can visually reveal plaque build-up in the carotid arteries, a condition that can lead to stroke. Using this technology preventively, before a person feels sick or experiences symptoms, can identify blockages when intervention, be it lifestyle changes, medical management, or surgery, can actually prevent the stroke from happening. Residents living in and around the Seaford community can take advantage of such ultrasound screenings when Life Line Screening comes to the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department on April 27. Appointments will begin at 9 a.m. A complete wellness package, including the stroke/Carotid Artery, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, Ankle Brachial Index (hardening of the arteries) and Osteoporosis screenings, is only $129 (a savings of $41). For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-237-1377, or visit us online at Pre-registration is required.

Casino Night fund raiser
Delaware Hospice's Casino Nigh fundraiser will be held on Thursday, May 3 from 6:30-10 p.m., at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. Texas Hold-Em, Blackjack, Craps, Poker and more will be dealt by local celebrities. Guests will enjoy refreshments provided by LHR Seafood and Catering, wine tasting compliments of Kemp's Liquors, raffles, and a silent auction. Proceeds from the event will benefit Delaware Hospice in its efforts to provide choice, expert care, and comfort to local families in need. Tickets are $30 per person in advance, $35 at the door, and include a drink ticket and $10 in chips. To purchase tickets, call Joyce Bensinger at 856-7717 or 800-838-9800, or email: jbensinger

Health Care Conference
Individuals and organizations focused on improving the quality of Delmarva's social service delivery will gather at Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus, Georgetown, on Friday, May 4, for the annual "Families, Individuals & Communities" conference. Formerly the "Families in Crisis" conference, this year's theme is "It's All About Me - Helping You Helps Others." Nurses, health care workers and counselors can earn continuing education credits and gain valuable information from conference presentations, workshops, exhibits and networking opportunities. The conference begins at 8 a.m. with exhibits by area agencies; free health screenings for cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure will be offered by Beebe Medical Center from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The keynote presentation focuses on basic, necessary skills that will give health care professionals an edge in their professional roles. It will be given by Dr. Sharon R. Yoder, president of "Make it Happen Training Programs," and offers a humorous look into what should, and should not, be done by workers in the health-care world. There will also be workshops available throughout the day on a variety of topics including anger management, women's health, living wills, holistic modalities and stress. Cost for the conference, including meals, is $35 for the general public and $20 for full-time students. Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations must contact Lori Westcott at 302-855-5988 by May 1.

Family Caregiver Training
The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter sponsors The Family Caregiver Education Series four times per year in each of Delaware's three counties. Easter Seals at 22317 N. DuPont Blvd. in Georgetown will host the training on April 26, 2007 from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. This program includes a Medical Overview; Legal and Financial Issues, Communications, Behaviors and Activities of Daily Living and Community Resources. This training, for family caregivers, is free and lunch will be provided, but pre-registration is required. For more information or to register, call Jamie Magee, 854-9788.

Relay for Life Friendraiser
The Western Sussex Relay for Life committee members are busy making preparations for this year's Relay for Life. This year's event will be held on May 18, at the Mears Campus in Seaford. The Relay for Life is an overnight event that helps raise money for the American Cancer Society. If you are interested in receiving information on how to register a team or for further information, contact Mary Catherine Hopkins at 875-7308.