Addressing Problems Before They Start To help manage treatment-related issues, the Head and Neck Cancer team has started an oral health initiative. The goal is to give all patients pre-treatment education and support related to dental health, speech, swallowing, nutrition, emotional health and other issues. “We bring it together in a proactive manner. We’re not just waiting for side effects to appear,” Dr. Wong said.
“We’re deliberate about introducing people to these services before we begin treatment, so patients know what to expect.” Dr. Campbell said. “For example, we encourage patients to work with their dentist before starting treatment to maintain the best possible oral health.”
Reconstructive surgeons play a vital role in treatment planning for head and neck cancer patients. John LoGiudice, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin plastic surgeon, Dr. Massey and John S. Rhee, MD, MPH, chief of the Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, reconstruct the pharynx, mandible (jaw bone), tongue, skull base and skin.
Reconstructive surgeons sometimes move bone or tissue from another part of the body. They also help reconstruct people’s smiles, reanimating facial muscles and reconstructing the skull base after surgery for sinus and skull base cancers.
“Our techniques, in their infancy 15 or 20 years ago, have now been refined,” Dr. LoGiudice said. “With more long-term clinical follow up, we can minimize the side effects of taking tissues from another part of the body.”
John LoGiudice, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin plastic surgeon, helps a patient understand her reconstructive surgery plan prior to treatment for head and neck cancer.
Hub Model Improves Care and Outcomes
At Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin, our team approach to treating head and neck cancer is evidence-based. Highly skilled physicians are experts in their fields, keeping them on the leading edge of new treatment approaches and current research.
“Because we treat hundreds of patients each year, our outcomes are very good,” said Stuart Wong, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin medical oncologist. “There are a lot of subtleties to how you treat this cancer, and you cannot achieve expertise by doing a few cases a year.”
The team approach means specialists work together to discuss cases and develop effective treatment options. The extensive list of specialists includes: head and neck surgeons, neurosurgeons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, plastic surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, endocrinologists, head and neck radiologists, and pathologists. Audiologists, speech and physical therapists, dedicated nurses and many critical support staff members complete this enormous effort. “Patients get the benefit of all of these different experts in subtle and nearly invisible ways that benefit them,” said Bruce Campbell, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin otolaryngologist. “The process makes us all smarter and better at what we do.”
The team is focused on not only curing, but also minimizing side effects of treatment and helping survivors thrive. “A future goal is for every patient to have a treatment summary,” Dr. Campbell said. “People may move, or change doctors. Providing that information to carry with them will improve their care in the future.”
The Clinical Cancer Center’s hub model, which builds the entire care experience around patients, also helps improve care. All of the specialists are in clinic together, so patients can more easily access the doctors they need. Physicians can also easily consult with each other on cases and questions.
As the only academic medical center in eastern Wisconsin, Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin treats the entire spectrum of head, neck and skull base cancers. “From the commonplace to the complex,” Dr. Wang said, “we have the resources — from nationally recognized physicians to leading-edge technology — to treat whatever our patients face.”
For more information, visit froedtert.com/headneck
. To schedule an appointment call 866-680-0505. Special Report 2011 866-680-0505 19
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