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FirstHealth of the Carolinas
Article Title

FirstHealth Cancer Services

The Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital is one of the most complete cancer care programs in North Carolina. With their specialized knowledge and skills, the cancer care experts associated with the Cancer Center use the latest and most powerful technology to diagnose and treat a wide range of cancers.

In 2008, the Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center received a three-year approval with commendation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons. All of the program’s physicians are board certified and participate in a variety of cancer clinical trials. Current treatment options at the Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center include the following:

  • IV Chemotherapy
  • Oral Chemotherapy
  • External Beam Radiation Therapy, which uses a high-energy X-ray machine called a linear accelerator to direct radiation to the tumor
  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), which uses an advanced computer program to plan a precise dose of radiation in three dimensions based on individual tumor size, shape and location
  • Image-Guided Radiation Therapy, a radiation treatment that is guided by imaging equipment (such as CT, ultrasound or stereoscopic X-ray) to allow radiation to be delivered to tumors with more precision than has been traditionally possible
  • High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy, a form of internal radiation therapy that precisely delivers radiation from the inside out, sparing surrounding healthy tissue and organs and potentially reducing the need for surgery
  • MammoSite, a unique form of brachytherapy that uses a balloon catheter to deliver radiation internally to the site of a breast cancer tumor cavity where the likelihood of recurrence is greatest
  • Surgery
  • Biological Therapy, which works with the immune system to help fight cancer or to control side effects from other cancer treatments
  • Monoclonal Antibody, a laboratory-produced molecule that is engineered to attach to specific defects in cancer cells and mimic the antibodies that the body produces naturally as part of the immune system’s response
  • Robot-Assisted Surgery with the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System, which allows surgeons to perform complex prostatectomies and hysterectomies as minimally invasive procedures with smaller incisions.

Advanced diagnostic technology
Using highly specific, color-coded PET/CT scans, the physicians at Moore Regional Hospital are able to detect and stage tumors earlier, more easily and with more accuracy than ever before. This detailed information allows for more accurate monitoring of changes in the cancer as well as more precise treatment.

All three FirstHealth hospitals (Moore Regional, Montgomery Memorial and Richmond Memorial) use digital mammography to screen for breast cancer. With digital mammography, high-quality images are displayed on a high-resolution computer monitor and transmitted and stored like computer files.

With digital mammography, the radiologist uses a special high-resolution monitor to review the electronic images of the breast—adjusting the brightness, changing contrast and zooming in for close-ups of specific areas of interest.

Other available breast cancer detection technology includes:

  • Breast MRI, which supplements mammography and ultrasound for detecting and staging breast cancer
  • Stereotactic or X-ray-guided breast biopsy—allows physicians to use a special computerized mammography machine to guide them in inserting a needle into a growth to collect a small sample for analysis (available at both Moore Regional and Richmond Memorial hospitals)
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy, a procedure in which the sentinel lymph node (first lymph node or group of nodes reached by metastasizing cancer cells) is removed and examined to determine whether cancer cells are present (available at both Moore Regional and Richmond Memorial hospitals)

Cancers treated at FirstHealth
Moore Regional Hospital

Brain tumors
Digestive & Stomach
Head & Neck
Hodgkin’s Disease and
Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Metastatic (cancer that
has spread from the
original site)
Multiple Myeloma
Urinary Tract & Bladder

The Chest Center of the Carolinas

The Chest Center of the Carolinas brings together the expertise of multiple specialties in the treatment of diseases of the chest, and assists patients in their treatment plan by minimizing visits that provide the most advanced care possible.

With the combination of the talents of the specialists into one center, complex patient care is coordinated in an efficient and friendly manner without multiple visits.

Board certified thoracic surgeons, pulmonologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and radiologists comprise the Chest Center team, which focuses on the treatment of lung cancer as well as esophageal and central thoracic cavity tumors and benign diseases of the chest.

Inside a meeting of the “Tumor Board”

By Brenda Bouser

Participants in the group that is about to meet—most of them clad in white coats and arriving from early hospital rounds—begin to gather before 7 a.m. in the Cancer Classroom at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital.

Their number includes medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, internists and nurses as well as representatives from such auxiliary services as pharmacy, food and nutrition, Clinical Trials and the Cancer Registry (data collection department). The people in the room obviously know each other well, so the mood is comfortable, almost casual.

Until the serious talk begins.

This is a meeting of Moore Regional’s Oncology Case Conference or, as it is more commonly known, the Tumor Board. Lives that have been changed by cancer are discussed in this gathering. Cases are presented, and treatment options are considered.

The meetings, known for their multidisciplinary makeup, are held the first and third Wednesday of every month. A smaller group comprised only of medical and radiation oncologists and representatives from nursing and Clinical Trials meets the second and fourth Thursday.

A similar multidisciplinary conference happens after each Chest Center of the Carolinas clinic (see related story on page 17) on Tuesdays, and various informal discussions frequently transpire in telephone and person-to-person conversations.

Each has a common goal—the best possible approach to each patient’s cancer care.

“This is evidence that Moore Regional Hospital does indeed provide the multidisciplinary care that is so much a part of cancer management today,” says Ellen Willard, M.D., a medical oncologist and medical director of the Outpatient Cancer Center.

“Basically, you get input from several disciplines to allow you to develop the best approach to care, using a combination or a sequence of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, etc. The purpose is to review pathology, X-rays and the clinical picture in the course of making these decisions.”

Because identities are confidential, during Tumor Board meetings at Moore Regional, patients are referred to only by age and gender (a 90-year-old woman, a 72-year-old woman) or by attached ABC identifier (Patient C or Patient E).

After a physician presents the case, noting a medical history that is often complicated by age and/or other non-related medical problems, everyone has the chance to weigh in. By the end of the discussion, the physician presenting the case will have confirmed, or dismissed, a particular course of treatment.

“They work well,” Dr. Willard says of the meetings. “We all increase our knowledge through them in addition to making decisions that improve patient care.”

FirstHealth Cancer Specialists

  Medical Oncologists
David G. Allen, M.D. David G. Allen, M.D.
Board Certified
Training: M.D., Duke University School of Medicine
Internship/Residency: Duke University Medical Center; University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
Charles S. Kuzma, M.D. Charles S. Kuzma, M.D.
Board Certified
Training: M.D., Temple University.
Internship/Residency: Oakland Naval Hospital, Calif.; Naval Medical Center, Calif.
Todd A. Moore, M.D. Todd A. Moore, M.D.
Board Certified
Training: M.D., University of Mississippi
Internship/Residency: University of Texas; University of Mississippi Medical Center; Brown University, R.I.
Robert A. Pohlmeyer, M.D. Robert A. Pohlmeyer, M.D.
Board Certified
Training: Wright State University School of Medicine, Ohio
Internship/Residency: Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Ellen M. Willard, M.D. Ellen M. Willard, M.D.
Board Certified
Training: M.D., Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Internship/Residency: University of Alabama
  Radiation Oncologists
Jeffrey C. Acker, M.D. Jeffrey C. Acker, M.D.
Board Certified
Training: M.D., Duke University Medical School,
Durham, N.C.
Internship/Residency: UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
Stephen C. King, M.D. Stephen C. King, M.D.
Board Certified
Training: M.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Internship/Residency: N.C. Memorial Hospital; Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
Sushma M. Patel, M.D. Sushma M. Patel, M.D.
Board Certified
Training: M.D., Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
Internship/Residency: University of Cincinnati, Ohio