East Hawaii Health Cancer Center has both Medical Oncologists and Nurse Practitioners that use various therapies in the treatment of cancer. These may include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy and hormonal therapy.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses one or more anticancer drugs as part of a standardized chemotherapy regimen. The ultimate goal of therapy is to terminate carcinogenic cells, and prevent new cancer cells from growing. Chemotherapy is a treatment in which these medications are infused into a vein, given orally (via mouth), or delivered directly into a specific part of the body. Here at East Hawaii Health Center, our team of experts will help patients manage side effects that may arise from these treatments. Each patient’s treatment team will aid in determining the appropriate schedule for their chemotherapy infusions.
Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that utilizes certain components of your immune system to fight cancer. When introducing immune system proteins and other elements into the body a patient’s immune system can target cancer cells. Immunotherapy has been proven to have a higher success rate with certain types of cancers.
Oncology Nursing Support
The role of an oncology nurses at EHHCC is extensive. One of their primary roles is patient assessment. They are responsible for assessing patients who have presented due to treatment side effects, as well as assessing pre-, during, and post-chemotherapy.
East Hawaii Health Cancer Center oncology nurses are sensitive to the patient’s needs, they play a large role in coordination of care including different treatments and tests. They understand pathology results and its implications, along with having an in-depth knowledge of the expected side effects of cancer treatments.
Our oncology nurses have strong interpersonal skills and compassion. Part of the role of oncology nurses at EHHCC is to evaluate each patient and initiate appropriate cares. This may involve administering drugs or arranging for the patient to see the oncologist.
Oncology nurses at EHHCC have a deep understanding of nausea, vomiting and fatigue, as these are three of the most common side effects of chemotherapy treatments.
Radiation Oncologists are responsible for designing a patient’s radiation therapy treatment plan and coordinating the details with other department members. Radiation centered treatments are utilized in the management of different types and stages of cancer. Radiation therapy is a vital part of the comprehensive cancer care we provide at East Hawaii Health Cancer Center. Radiation can help kill cancerous cells, shrink tumors, and relieve symptoms associated with a patient’s diagnosis.
Patients are treated on a linear accelerator. A linear accelerator, or LINAC, is a machine that is commonly used to deliver external beam radiation to patients. The treatments are customized, and the LINAC is programmed prior to each session with that patients individualized treatment plan. These plans conform the shape of the radiation to the specific size, shape, and location of the tumor. The machine has built-in protective measures designed to prevent delivery of excess radiation. Additionally, the LINAC has daily, monthly, and annual tests that are performed in accordance with State and NRC regulations.
East Hawaii Health Cancer Center has a VARIAN TrueBeam LINAC and we specialize in:
- Conventional external beam radiation therapy (3D)
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
- Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
- Respiratory Gating and breath hold treatment
Radiation Therapists are an extremely important part of the treatment team. They are experts in setting the patient up every day for treatment. At East Hawaii Health Cancer Center, we have quality checks to ensure the radiation treatment is delivered safely and correctly. Our radiation therapists at EHHCC are trained in radiological sciences and board certified/ licensed with the state of Hawaii. The radiation therapists are vendor credentialed to operate the LINAC. Additionally, the radiation therapists always have video/ audio of the patient to ensure safety at all times during treatment delivery.
Commission on Cancer
Commission on Cancer (CoC) accreditation encourages hospitals, treatment centers, and other facilities to improve their quality of care through various cancer-related programs and activities. CoC accreditation provides real value to accredited programs. Programs can proudly demonstrate to their community- and to providers, payers, and the government- that they have invested in systems to ensure that cancer patients receive high-quality, coordinated care.
Achieving accreditation by the CoC ensures our patients at East Hawaii Health Cancer Center receive:
- Comprehensive, patient-centered care through a multidisciplinary team-approach
- Access to information on clinical and new treatment options
- Ongoing monitoring of care and lifelong patient follow-up
- Psycho-social support and survivorship care
- Continuous quality improvements in care
Cancer Committee is the driving force for comprehensive quality cancer care in the community. The Committee is responsible for goal setting, planning, initiating, implementing, evaluating and improving all cancer related activities for Hilo Medical Center. The Committee’s overall goal is to make every aspect of the cancer program excellent in the scope of prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of cancer in compliance with the standards of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, the College of American Pathology and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
At Hilo Medical Center we have a tumor board that takes place once a month. When your doctor says to you “We discussed your case at our tumor board, and here is your treatment recommendation”, this is what they mean.
A tumor board is a group of doctors and other health care providers with diverse specialties. These specialties include but are not limited to specialists such as pathologists, surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, and radiologists. These individuals meet recurrently at the hospital to discuss new cases and share information. The ultimate goal of the board is to determine the best possible cancer treatment and care plan for that individual patient. Having new input and additional perspectives from other doctors and healthcare professionals makes it easier to come up with an appropriate treatment plan.
Survivorship is of the utmost importance to us at East Hawaii Health Cancer Center. The fundamental goal of a survivorship care plan is to enable our patients to stay healthy after treatment and beyond. This idea of health includes emotional support, legal, social, and even sometimes the financial needs of the patient. Survivorship care plans are individually tailored for each patient based on their specific needs, diagnosis, and type of treatment received.
Cancer survivorship for a patient translates to having no signs of cancer after completing treatment. Essentially the patient’s survivorship plan begins at the point of diagnosis. These care plans include a record of the patient’s cancer treatment history, as well as checkups or follow-up tests that might be needed in the future.
There are 3 phases of survivorship:
- Acute– The first phase of survivorship, begins at diagnosis and progresses through to the end of active treatment. During this phase, the cancer treatment itself is the main focal point.
- Extended– This phase begins after the acute phase and involves the effects of the cancer treatment. Extended survivorship phase starts at the end of the initial treatment, and progresses through the months that follow afterwards.
- Permanent-The final phase of survivorship, occurs when years have passed since the cancer treatment has ended. Long-term effects of cancer, and the treatment are the main focus for this phase of survivorship.
Here at East Hawaii Health Cancer Center, we realize that many of our patients choose to work during treatment. Survivorship is a way to get back to a normal routine and lifestyle. It is important to understand that when and how you share your diagnosis is a personal choice. Additionally, if you choose to talk about your journey, be sure to set limits on what you are comfortable sharing. At EHHCC we will always work with you, and strive to have your best interest at heart.
The Cancer Genetic Counseling program at Hilo Medical Center is a comprehensive program for patients who were affected by many types of cancers. This program is designed to provide services for the prevention, early detection and treatment determination of cancers. Because the needs of these patients are multifaceted, it is necessary to provide a comprehensive program that includes physician and nursing services, genetic counseling and testing, patient education and support services, and access to research and clinical trials.
Criteria for Qualification for Genetic Counseling
An initial assessment will be completed to determine whether or not a person will qualify to be part of the Cancer Genetic Counseling Program at Hilo Medical Center.
A person who may qualify include those with:
- Any personal history of cancer
- Multiple cancers (2 or more primary cancers in the same person, 3 or more cancers on the same side of the family, 10 or more colorectal polyps in person’s lifetime)
- Cancer diagnosis in young age- breast, colorectal, and/or uterine cancers diagnosed < 50 years old
- Rare cancer- Ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, male breast cancer
- A diagnosis of known BRCA mutation carrier
- A family history of known BRCA mutation carrier
- Ancestry- Ashkenazi Jewish and history of breast or pancreatic cancer
Nutrition is an important part of cancer treatment. Choosing the right kinds of foods to nourish the body can help patients stay stronger and feel better throughout their treatment.
Cancer itself, as well as its treatments, can affect the appetite. It can also change the body’s ability to tolerate certain foods and use certain nutrients. The dietitians at Hilo Medical Center can assist patients in making informed choices about nutrition.
Our dietitians can help patients:
- Minimize side effects from treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormonal medications, transplants, and surgery
- Enhance quality of life during treatment
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent or correct nutritional deficiencies
- Incorporate healthy nutrition habits
- Provide guidance on alternative nutritional therapies
- Educate family members about patients’ special nutrition needs
- Provide survivorship education to reduce risk of recurrence
Our Physical Therapists focus on improving coordination, balance, strength, endurance and joint flexibility to achieve the highest levels of functional mobility and greater independence. We develop a specialized treatment plan to help individuals restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities through a variety of physical therapy interventions.
- The physical therapy program includes:
- Joint Mobilization
- Therapeutic Exercises
- Wound Prevention
- Gait/ Transfer Training
- Range-of-motion and strengthening exercises
East Hawaii Health Cancer Center works closely with Hawai’i Care Choices. Hawai’i Care Choices offer palliative care, which is support that can begin at diagnosis and can continue alongside treatment. This is for serious illness, with only a few months to years to live. This service is provided in-home and at accessible locations. The reason why palliative care is important is that some patients desire support while still seeking curative care to impact disease outcomes.
Hawai’i Care Choice is through Kupu care. This is a community palliative care program. Other palliative care services include Transitions Care- Hilo Medical Center program for HMC patients, Supportive Care- benefit for HMSA patients, and lastly Concurrent Care- this benefit is for UHA patients.
At East Hawaii Health Cancer Center, we do not currently perform clinical trials on site. However, through our partnership with University of Hawaii Cancer Research Center we have access to refer our patients for clinical trials within the state of Hawaii. Additionally, we also refer patients nationally to larger research-based centers for active clinical trials.