Local tumor boards create team approach to cancer treatment - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Local tumor boards create team approach to cancer treatment

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1,600 people across Southwest Louisiana are diagnosed with cancer every year. Many choose to stay close to home for their cancer care - and there is an entire medical team strategizing for each patient's treatment.

It is another world underneath the lens of the microscope at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital.  Dr. Stephanie Richard, is the chairman of the hospital's cancer committee and pathologist for The Pathology Laboratory, spending much of her day looking at cancerous cells.

Dr. Richard brings her knowledge of the cancer make-up to help create a team approach to cancer treatment through the hospital's tumor board.  "There are multiple doctors, nurses, healthcare professionals that come together in one room to discuss the details of individual cancer cases," she said.

One of their cases is 59-year-old Jimmy Williams', a father of five and step-father of five more, who is relieved to know a team of experts was involved in shaping his treatment for multiple myeloma.  "I thank them for what they're doing," he said, "they're some great, great guys and ladies that are doing their best to help us to keep our life ahead."

Twice a month, oncologists, pathologists, surgeons, nurses and radiologists are brought together to review almost every cancer case at its cancer center.  For Dr. Richard, who is a cancer survivor herself, that calms the fear in a scary time.  "It gives the patient a sense of relief that their case has been discussed in one room where there are multiple doctors sitting in the same room going over all the details," she said.

The decision for Williams' treatment was radiation and he says he is already feeling better.  "I used to have pain in my arm," he said, "but now I can keep my arms up and I'm happy about it."

Williams only has a couple more treatments before his case is looked at again and he says all he can do is hope.  "My hope is for them to heal me and that they can help other people as well," he said.

The only cancers not looked at by the tumor board are typically minor skin cancers, since the treatment is straight-forward.

Dr. Richard stresses the importance of cancer screenings to detect potentially dangerous cells and masts early, leading to the best results. @@

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