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Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans

The Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans is an important facility for so many reasons, including the fact that Louisiana has one of the highest rates of cancer in the country. The combination of a multidisciplinary approach to treating patients, leading experts in cancer and mesothelioma, innovative research, and education means that Ochsner is contributing to the understanding and the effective treatment of all cancers, including challenging cancers like mesothelioma.

Within Ochsner, patients with mesothelioma can get excellent care at the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center. Because of the high number of shipyard and port workers on the Gulf Coast who were exposed to asbestos, mesothelioma cases in the area are high, and the Cancer Center and Ochsner are crucial in providing much needed care and in adding to the knowledge of this cancer through research.

About Ochsner

Ochsner Medical Center is a facility located in Jefferson, Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans. There are more than 2,700 physicians affiliated with the Center and it is the largest non-profit, academic medical facility in southeast Louisiana. There are 29 hospitals and more than 60 health centers in the community that are part of the Ochsner system. A big part of the Center’s mission is to serve, heal, educate, and lead in the community.

Ochsner has been ranked among the best hospitals and medical centers in the country, year after year, including high rankings for a number of different specialties. In addition to recognition for patient care, Ochsner is also a leader in medical research and clinical trials. It is one of the largest medical teaching facilities in the country that is not affiliated with a university. Researching and treating cancer is a big part of the work done at Ochsner.

The history of Ochsner goes back to 1942 when a doctor named Alton Ochsner opened the first multi-disciplinary medical practice with several of his colleagues. The mission of these founders was to provide the residents of New Orleans with comprehensive and quality care from a team of experts in different areas.

The Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center

The Gayle and Tom Benson Caner Center is a department within the Ochsner Medical Center. It provides care for cancer patients, including those with mesothelioma. The Cancer Center at Ochsner opened in 2010 to expand the Medical Center’s ability to help patients with all types of cancer. Ochsner was already a leader in treating cancer patients, but the opening of the Cancer Center allows more patients to get treatment and more resources to be focused on cancer research.

In Louisiana, one in four men and one in three women are ultimately diagnosed with cancer. The Benson Cancer Center’s goal is to reach more of these patients and to provide them with care that is both advanced and compassionate. The Cancer Center is multi-disciplinary, offering specialists in a variety of areas. It also offers care for patients that is holistic and addresses both medical needs as well as others, including spiritual and emotional needs.

The Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer Clinic

Within the Benson Cancer Center is the Multidisciplinary Lung Cancer Clinic, which serves patients with lung cancer, but also those with mesothelioma and similar cancers of the chest cavity. The Cancer Center opened this clinic because of the need for better care for lung cancer. It is among the deadliest and most common of cancer types. Founder Dr. Ochsner was an expert in lung cancer and was one of the first medical experts to link smoking to lung cancer.

Treatment and Care for Asbestos Victims

Louisiana and the New Orleans area has higher than average rates of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses. This is related to the shipping industry and other industries on the Gulf of Mexico. Ships at one time were laden with asbestos materials, so anyone who worked on or near them were likely to have been exposed. The oil and refinery industry, also big in this region, used asbestos heavily as well. Workers exposed to asbestos were put at serious risk of developing mesothelioma or lung cancer.

The great need for care for these victims has been met in part by Ochsner and its cancer departments. The Lung Cancer Clinic currently treats a variety of patients, including those who developed mesothelioma because of asbestos exposure. Treatment for mesothelioma patients involves a multi-disciplinary approach, with various experts contributing to individualized treatment plans. Ochsner is the only such facility in the region that offers lung-sparing surgical treatments for mesothelioma. In addition to surgery, mesothelioma patients here can expect to benefit from advanced image-guided radiation, targeted chemotherapy, and other innovative treatments.

Mesothelioma patients can also receive a type of treatment  here that involves surgery to remove the bulk of tumors followed by the circulation of heated chemotherapy drugs, either in the chest cavity or abdominal cavity, depending on the type of mesothelioma. This procedure was first performed in Louisiana by Dr. Rodney Landreneau at Ochsner. He led the Department of Thoracic Surgery and was a mesothelioma specialist. He has since left Ochsner, but his work is carried on by colleagues.

Research and Clinical Trials

In addition to reaching more mesothelioma patients and providing them with the best care, Ochsner is also a leader in cancer and mesothelioma research. Ochsner partners with other facilities to conduct research and is a part of the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium. Partnerships include those with Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Xavier University, and Tulane University Health Sciences Center.

Ochsner also participates in and leads clinical trials that allow patients to access innovative and new treatments otherwise unavailable. Nearly 200 patients every year are placed in clinical trials. Current trials ongoing at Ochsner include the use of pemetrexed, a new chemotherapy drug and another new drug that will hopefully stop cancer cell growth.

Ochsner Medical Center and its cancer departments are leading the way in cancer care and research. It is especially important that these facilities exist in the New Orleans area where so many people have been affected by asbestos and mesothelioma. These patients are getting the best and most advanced possible care at Ochsner.

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