Behind the scenes with LCMH's Tumor Board

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Hearing the words, "You have cancer" are some of the scariest one might ever hear. But, there's comfort in knowing that a team of physicians is reviewing your diagnosis from start to finish and in this Healthcast, we explain that process.

"This lady's 50 years old and was seen after an abnormal screening mammogram," says Dr. Thomas Strong to a group of physicians at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.  The images being shown to the groups are from one of the newest cancer patients at the hospital.  "The screening mammogram demonstrated an abnormal area of increased density in the left breast," an LCMH radiologist explains.

With a diagnosis of breast cancer, this patient will have some tough decisions to make when it comes to treatment. Fortunately, though, these decisions don't have to be made blindly and without the help of a team of physicians that has already combed through her case.  Oncologist and Cancer Conference Chair Dr. James Gaharan says, "We start with the presentation or the history of the patient, then usually the radiology, followed by the pathology, followed by a discussion by the surgeon, the medical oncologist and radiation oncologist."

Dr. Gaharan leads Memorial's Tumor Board each week. He says the weekly conferences analyzing each new cancer patient bring together physicians representing surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, diagnostic radiology and pathology - all with the same goal.  "Each discipline brings its own expertise to the table," says Dr. Gaharan, "and it's an interaction of all those disciplines that gets the best treatment for the patient."

By talking through each area of diagnosis and treatment, these physicians offer their best advice for coordinating successful treatment. That knowledge is then passed on to the patient at the next visit.  "That information is then discussed with each individual patient, so they have complete information as to their tumor stage and recommendation for treatment," adds Dr. Gaharan.

Tumor Boards are found at almost any hospital, including community hospitals. At Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, they average 10-15 new cases each week for review.

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