Memorial Breast Cancer Center Grows Even Stronger Against Cancer

For years, Memorial Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Center has been helping breast cancer patients of all ages become breast cancer survivors. Memorial’s “Stronger Against Cancer” commitment is supported by the expertise of the program’s multidisciplinary cancer team – all of whom specialize in breast cancer. The team works collaboratively to fight breast cancer together, resulting in expedited, quality and convenient care.

We offer patients all the specialties they need in a one-stop shop. We have imaging, medical, surgical, radiation oncology, rehabilitation and supportive care services, including nutrition, psychology, acupuncture and social work – everything is under one roof. In addition to the benefits for our patients, providing such highly collaborative care has also helped us gain valuable experience and achieve excellent patient outcomes against breast cancer.
— Maggie Wiegandt, Vice President, Oncology Services, Memorial Cancer Institute

Memorial Welcomes New Breast Cancer Center Team Members

Memorial Cancer Institute welcomed two experienced breast medical oncologists this year:

Sayeh M. Lavasani, MD, breast medical oncologist – Dr. Lavasani is one of an exclusive group of physicians fellowship-trained in breast oncology, bringing extensive research experience to Memorial

Adriana M. Milillo Naraine, MD, breast medical oncologist – Dr. Milillo is board-certified in oncology, hematology and internal medicine

So many new breast cancer treatments and clinical trials are underway that are very exciting. They are critical to our patients, as they give them access to advanced therapies and additional options for treatment. We’re proud to be able to offer those to our patients in their fight against cancer.
— Sayeh M. Lavasani, MD
At Memorial, breast cancer patients can rely on services that are above and beyond what other providers offer.
— Adriana M. Milillo Naraine, MD

These breast oncologists further strengthen the Breast Cancer Center team that consists of:

  • Heather Wright, MD, medical director, Breast Surgical Oncology
  • Erica Bloomquist, MD, breast surgical oncologist
  • And the breast medical oncologists: Aurelio Castrellon, MD, Michel Velez, MD, and Marcelo Blaya, MD

Breast Cancer Services Not Found Everywhere

The unique resources of Memorial Cancer Institute’s Breast Cancer Program also include:

  • Four patient navigators dedicated exclusively to guiding breast cancer patients from diagnosis through to survivorship
  • Two breast medical navigators, plus a breast surgical navigator and a radiation oncology navigator
  • Memorial Cancer Institute has a total of nine patient navigators for all forms of cancer – a benefit not readily available at other cancer institutes

Future Plans

  • Breast medical and surgical offices – Opening soon at Memorial Hospital Miramar and in Weston
  • A Survivorship Clinic – Featuring an innovative integrative medicine program, which provides breast cancer patients with the tools and strategies they need to live healthy and rewarding lives after cancer

Melanie's Story

With Memorial Cancer Institute on her side, Melanie had the strength to fight and beat stage 4 breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes and liver.

SAVI SCOUT®: Latest Technology in Breast Tumor Treatment

After detecting a lump in her right breast, Mindy, 54, went in for a mammogram. Biopsy results revealed she had stage 2 breast cancer.

At Memorial Cancer Institute, she met with a team of oncologists and surgeons. Following five months of chemotherapy, Mindy became one of the first breast cancer patients in Florida to undergo breast surgery with SAVI SCOUT, a new electromagnetic surgical guidance system that emits no radiation and allows surgeons to pinpoint a lesion with more accuracy prior to surgery.

“Undergoing breast surgery can be very anxiety-provoking,” said Erica Bloomquist, MD, breast surgical oncologist at Memorial Breast Cancer Center. “Going into surgery with a wire in your breast can add additional anxiety. We are very proud to be the first in the state to have SAVI SCOUT available.”

“It was very simple; I didn’t feel a thing,” said Mindy. “I’d encourage my fellow breast cancer sisters to consider the SAVI SCOUT because it was pain-free, saved me time and was less stressful on my body.”

The innovative SAVI SCOUT surgical guidance system allows Memorial Breast Cancer Center surgeons to more accurately pinpoint lesions and create more efficiency prior to and during surgery for a more comfortable patient experience.

Memorial Cancer Institute Bone Marrow Transplant Program is accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT)

GI Cancers Get Leading-Edge Treatment at Memorial

Gastrointestinal cancers – malignancies affecting the esophagus, stomach, colon/rectum, pancreas and liver, to name a few – take the lives of nearly 250,000 Americans every year. Providing patients with the kind of care that’s available at Memorial Cancer Institute can lead to improved success rates against these cancers.

Memorial Cancer Institute’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Program features:

  • A multidisciplinary team of physicians and specialists, including gastroenterologists, interventional and imaging radiologists, surgeons, oncologists and pathologists, closely collaborating to provide personalized care
  • Tumor boards, held weekly, in which the multispecialty team meets to discuss diagnoses, treatments and follow-up for individual cases
  • The latest technologies, such as minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic procedures, with less pain, shorter hospital stays and faster recoveries after surgery
  • Clinical trials that can provide access to therapies not otherwise available and that may help improve outcomes

This year, Memorial Cancer Institute’s GI program:

  • Added Surgical Oncology services at Memorial Regional Hospital

Future plans include:

  • Adding more medical oncologists dedicated to gastrointestinal cancers
  • A system-wide committee of GI specialists that will work to align all practitioners for GI cancers and optimize patient care
  • Expansion of multidisciplinary clinics
  • Adding a dedicated gastroenterologist to perform complex endoscopic procedures
At Memorial Cancer Institute, patients can obtain fully comprehensive care for all gastrointestinal malignancies, including the ability to access clinical trials, right here in their own community. Our GI cancer patients receive the same kind of high-quality care that renowned cancer centers provide – but close to home.
— Christopher Gannon, MD, Medical Director, Surgical Oncology, Memorial Cancer Institute, East Operations
Adding Surgical Oncology services at Memorial Regional Hospital has doubled our capacity to see patients with complex GI cancers. All patients are seen within 24 hours and presented within a week at our multispecialty tumor board. Our Nurse Navigator ensures expedited care that ultimately minimizes patient anxiety.
— Ihor Pidhorecky, MD, Medical Director, Surgical Oncology, Memorial Cancer Institute, West Operations

Jeannine's Story

Jeannine put off having a colonoscopy, but when she finally did, the diagnosis was colon cancer. With the Memorial Cancer Institute team on her side, Jeannine was stronger than colon cancer.

Memorial Cancer Institute Tests Telephone Triage System for Cancer Patients

How do you help cancer patients manage their symptoms and bring down their visits to the emergency room by nearly 60 percent? Provide them with an innovative telephone triage system that can help determine whether they need to go to the ER, or just pay a visit to their doctor.

Memorial Cancer Institute implemented the system in partnership with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) starting in October 2015. Studies had shown that almost half of visits by cancer patients to the emergency room took place during their physicians’ office hours – mostly because patients were unsure of the severity of their side effects.

The triage system:

  • Allows oncology patients to call and speak to operators about their symptoms, and whether they warrant an ER or office visit
  • Includes a concurrent program of patient education to help them understand their symptoms and how they can be treated
  • Employs a multidisciplinary team of operators trained to assess symptom severity, plus a triage nurse to provide consultations and physician practices to make appointments for patients who need them

During the system’s first six months, Memorial Cancer Institute phone-triaged 240 patients per month and eliminated 89 unnecessary visits to the emergency room.

More results were detailed in a study published by:

  • Brian Hunis, MD, medical director, Head and Neck Cancer Program
  • Vedner Guerrier, MBA, director, Physician Practices

Dr. Hunis presented the results at ASCO’s Quality Care Symposium in March 2016. His report outlined significant potential cost savings, including:

  • Office visits at an average cost of $200 (compared to $1,200 for the ER)
  • Average estimated savings by avoiding triage in the ER: $24,000 a month
  • Average estimated savings by preventing hospital admissions: $816,000 a month
The triage system is 100 percent for our patients. By educating them on their side effects and symptoms, and directing them to the most appropriate treatment at the right time, we have helped cancer patients better understand their symptoms and know what to do.
— Dr. Hunis

© 2016 Memorial Healthcare System