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Introducing Enhanced Cancer Navigation and Healing Technology at Carteret Health Care

After opening a new comprehensive multidisciplinary community Cancer Center in 2015, Carteret Health Care (CHC) continues to enhance the oncology services offered in the region. Exciting new phases of growth include offering a specialized Breast Nurse Navigator and adding new technology for radiation patients as well as breast cancer patients to aid in their healing and fight of cancer.

Feedback from patients and staff show appreciation for the new Cancer Center and the resulting ease of navigation during treatment services. Many, though, share that “It’s not the building that makes the difference, but the caring medical team using the latest technology.”

“Our Cancer Center is filled with hope, collaboration and some of the most aggressive cancer technology anywhere,” stated Dr. James Loynes, Medical Oncologist, CHC Cancer Center. “Our navigators, clinical team and leading edge-technology guide and support patients and families throughout treatment, healing and into survivorship.”

LOCalizer™ Implantable Tag
A more convenient and precise treatment for targeting breast lesions is one technologic advancement now being used at Carteret. The LOCalizer™ Implantable Tag is a wire-free lesion localization marker used prior to breast-conserving surgery. Now implantable for up to 30 days, patients and providers have more flexibility, more comfort and ease of use for breast surgery guidance.

Granted FDA approval in January 2019, CHC is the second organization in North Carolina to offer this new guidance system that replaces the traditional wire-guided method requiring the insertion of a wire the day of surgery. Distributed by Hologic, the LOCalizer is a non-radioactive, radiofrequency localization system designed for precise marking and targeting of lesions in breast-conserving surgery.

Following placement days ahead of surgery, the miniature implantable tag can be detected by a portable, handheld reader that indicates the location and distance to the lesion, enabling the surgeon to pinpoint the correct area of breast tissue for removal. Each tag also features a unique identification number that is displayed on the reader. This improved workflow is designed to help reduce scheduling and logistical hurdles for care teams, and delivers added convenience and more comfort for an enhanced patient experience.

Dr. Mindy Merritt, Breast Surgeon at Carteret Health Care has been using the LOCalizer system. She noted that the new system enables her to provide surgeries tailored appropriately for each patient. “Everyone is different and the LOCalizer system address some of the challenges patients face while being more comfortable and less cumbersome for patients – all without wires.”

Breast Nurse Navigator
Another enhancement for cancer patients is the addition of a Breast Nurse Navigator position to guide women during their cancer journey while providing support and answering questions during a very difficult and unsure time. The new position will focus on the patient, as well as family and support members and be the central point of contact for each patient and all health care professionals who are involved in providing care. April Husenita, RN, one of Carteret’s long term staff members with years of radiation oncology experience has accepted the new position as Breast Nurse Navigator.

From the very beginning, Breast Nurse Navigators meet with patients before the initial phases of screening and possible cancer diagnosis. The navigator is knowledgeable in multiple treatment options, can identify ways to help with the financial impact that a cancer diagnosis brings and will assist in coping with the strong emotional needs that can occur during this difficult journey.

“We know that a cancer diagnosis changes everything,” said Dr. Mindy Merritt, Breast Cancer Surgeon. “Breast cancer is no exception and with the newest technologies, treatment options, clinical trials, support services and continuity of care, we offer more options right here in Carteret County that enable patients and their families to maintain a quality of life while they undergo treatment.”

Dr. Merritt continued, “This renewed focus on breast cancer is a significant step forward as Carteret continues to set the standard in oncology health today and into the future. Adding the latest technology and providing Breast Nurse Navigators also reflect the momentum the Cancer Center and surgeons are building as we extend our shared focus on improving breast health throughout the patient journey.”

RapidArc™ radiotherapy technology
One more noteworthy advancement is the addition of RapidArc™ radiotherapy technology, a new form of image-guided, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). Image guidance better targets the tumor, and IMRT shapes the radiation dose so that it conforms closely to the three-dimensional shape of the tumor. This means more dose to the tumor, and less to surrounding healthy tissue.

“Our patients deserve the best care options and investments in services such as leading-edge technology like the LOCalizer and Rapid Arc. These are prime examples of our commitment to our patients,” said Dr. Kyle Rusthoven, Radiation Oncologist, CHC Cancer Center. “Investments like these further establish the capabilities of the full-service cancer program at Carteret Health Care and ensure our patients have direct access to the most innovative technology anywhere.”

RapidArc is an extremely fast and precise form of radiation therapy. It allows clinicians to quickly and accurately deliver dose to cancer cells while keeping the dose to surrounding tissues as low as possible. Faster treatments are not only more comfortable, they may also be more accurate. Since a patient will spend less time holding still, it will be easier to avoid involuntary movements that could compromise the accuracy of the treatment. RapidArc delivers treatments two to eight times faster than earlier forms of radiotherapy.

Luis Cuervo, MD, Medical Oncologist, CHC Cancer Center stated, “As advancements continue to be made in cancer detection and treatment, we’re focused on offering the innovative tools that create the best experience for patients who are navigating the complex logistics of cancer services.”

Carteret Health Care is a 135-bed, not-for-profit community hospital serving eastern North Carolina. The Cancer Center provides an outstanding comprehensive range of medical and radiation oncology services to meet the needs of cancer patients and their caregivers close to family, friends and home.