March-April 2017 | IGNITE HOPE

IGNITE HOPEJohn Mansueti, MD, Radiation Oncology Medical Director, Richard A. Henson Cancer InstituteIGNITE HOPEJoan Bartels, Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute patientCharley White and his daughter, Virginia Withams, say they appreciate the compassion of Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute nurses like Tynasha Sheppard, RN, left.IGNITE HOPE




Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are key components in the treatment of cancer, and compassionate care and support are vital to ensure the best possible outcomes. That’s why Peninsula Regional is committed to bringing a seamless experience to Worcester County for cancer patients who live near the beach — a strong team of providers from many disciplines who are working together to care for every patient in our community.  

The Peninsula Regional Health System has worked to provide our beach- area residents closer access to a team of doctors dedicated to helping people with cancer through diagnosis, treatment and into survivorship. The plan is coming to fruition this summer with the opening of the Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute Ocean Pines. 

Initial cancer treatment often starts with surgery. Peninsula Regional Medical Center offers the only robotic surgery on the Lower Shore, which equates to smaller incisions and faster recovery times. The most experienced surgeons in the area practice at Peninsula Regional, providing state-of-the art surgical care and preventing patients from needing to travel long distances.  

Treatments with radiation therapy and chemotherapy often require frequent visits to the oncology center. Radiation therapy typically only takes a few minutes but is usually performed five days a week. For many patients, there is often a lengthy drive to receive treatment, and this can span more than six to eight weeks. Chemotherapy services have been available through PRMC in Berlin for more than 20 years, but as cancer care advances, so have the services. 

“That’s why it was so important to bring the robust, research-driven services from the Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute in Salisbury closer to people with cancer in Worcester County and lower Sussex,” said Joan Mischtschuk, Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute Executive Director. “Services include access to clinical trials and immunotherapy treatments, some of the most cutting-edge techniques being used to treat cancer today. But cancer care is about more than just technology. The new cancer institute will also offer important services such as support groups and nutritional consultations.”

Joan Bartels was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014 and made regular trips to Salisbury for treatment. 

“The time element is the hardest thing,” said Bartels, who lives in Selbyville, 45 minutes from PRMC. “This new cancer center is going to be such an asset to the community, especially for people who are really sick. Thank God I don’t really get sick, but some people do, and driving for that long is tough when you don’t feel well.”

Now, patients who live near the beach can have access to the same quality services, with information housed in one electronic medical record available for everyone involved in your care.  

One Team to Ignite Hope

Cancer is a unique disease, affecting the body in many different ways, and the best treatment can vary from person to person. That’s why it’s important to have personalized, specialized care for each individual patient. 

The Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute’s team approach is the backbone that gives the program its unique strength. Teams of physicians from various specialties, such as radiation oncology, medical oncology, surgery, clinical research, radiology and pathology, review each case and collaborate on the best treatment plan for each patient.

“It’s so important for doctors to be able to have conversations with one other about the patient’s care, to make sure they are getting the best treatment recommendations and that nothing is overlooked,” said John Mansueti, MD, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at the Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute.

Complementary programs, such as nutrition services, are offered along with support from their clinical social workers and nurse navigators. This team helps ensure cancer patients and their families have access to the resources and support they need. 

The Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute’s care continues into survivorship, with survivors welcomed into support groups, as well as exercise and cooking classes offered through their cancer support services. There’s also “Look Good Feel Better,” an American Cancer Society program that teaches patients about beauty techniques and to feel better about themselves during treatment. This program, in a fun environment, shows simple techniques to address skin changes, hair loss, nail changes, and even makeup information specifically related to the needs of cancer patients.  

The Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute believes in taking a multidisciplinary, team approach. Cancer is a complex disease which requires collaboration among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists, and other cancer specialists. This partnership results in improved patient care. 

Thanks to its high standards, the Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute has earned accreditation with commendation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons. To earn a voluntary CoC accreditation, a cancer program must meet or exceed 34 quality-care standards, be evaluated every three years through a survey process and maintain levels of excellence in the delivery of comprehensive patient-centered care. Peninsula Regional has received accreditation continuously since 1970. 

“Only one in four hospitals across the United States receive accreditation with Commendation,” said Thomas DeMarco, MD, Chairman of the Cancer Committee at Peninsula Regional. “This shows the quality of our comprehensive patient care and our commitment to providing the best in diagnosing and treating cancer with a team approach.”

When Charley White of Chincoteague, VA, began having chest pain and stomach pain, his doctor sent him for some tests. The news wasn’t good — it was lung cancer. White decided to do something that not everyone does — he signed up for a clinical trial. “If it helps me, it might help others, too,” he said. The one-year trial began in October 2015. He started by getting radiation and chemotherapy, both on the same day. Many people might find it hard to handle, but not White. He continued his work as a forklift driver and said he felt pretty well through it all. He comes back every two weeks and takes a drug that is part of the clinical trial. He’s grateful for his family, who accompanied him to his treatments, and to the outpatient-infusion and research nurses. “They have been very helpful and always check up on me,” he said. He wants people who might be in a similar situation to his to know: “It’s nothing to be afraid of. You just take one day at a time, lick it and kick it.”

Top Technology and Treatments

As the Eastern Shore’s only accredited comprehensive community cancer program, the Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute is the only place in our region to access clinical trials through the Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network. Peninsula Regional’s clinical research team also assists in enrolling and following patients in National Cancer Institute (NCI) and pharmaceutical-sponsored studies.   

The Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute Ocean Pines will be home to a Varian TrueBeam® linear accelerator, which offers high precision radiation therapy in targeting tumors while protecting healthy tissue. Peninsula Regional was the first in the nation to offer high-dose rate brachytherapy using the SagiNova® High Dose Rate afterloader system. Dr. Mansueti says the system offers greater radiation dosage control and safety when using brachytherapy, a cancer treatment in which radioactive implants are inserted in the affected area. This technology helps doctors ensure healthy organs and functions are protected while the radiation combats the cancer. 

The new Richard A. Henson Cancer Institute Ocean Pines will also accommodate our patients undergoing immunotherapy. Dr. Mansueti says immunotherapy is one of the most promising new cancer treatments of the 21st century.  Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment designed to boost the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer by improving or restoring immune system function. “It’s not for everyone, but for those who it does help, the results can be incredible,” Mansueti said.

Stay tuned for information on our grand opening of this new center, which will open its doors to all residents this summer.





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