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Van Elslander Cancer Center, Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan

The Van Elslander Cancer Center is a part of the St. John Providence Health System, which recently changed its name to Ascension Health and is the largest health care system in southeast Michigan with multiple hospitals and health centers. Located in Grosse Pointe Woods, just minutes from Detroit in Michigan, the facility is named for Art Van Elslander, the founder of Art Van Furniture.

Ascension has three other cancer centers, but Van Elslander provides some of the most cutting edge treatment for cancer in the region. Leading the way with treatments, diagnostic tests, genetic screenings, and patient wellness and support, Van Elslander is a medical facility that draws in referrals. These include patients with cancers that are difficult to treat, like pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma and lung cancer caused by asbestos.

Surgical Oncology and Peritoneal Surface Malignancy

One of the many specialty programs at the Van Elslander Caner Center treats patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. This is the second most common type of a rare cancer, and it occurs when tumors grow in the tissue covering organs in the abdominal cavity, called the peritoneum. This is difficult to treat because instead of growing in one large mass, mesothelioma develops as many small tumors, some two small for a surgeon to see or remove.

An important treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma is performed for patients at Van Elslander. It begins with cytoreductive surgery with a surgeon removing as much visible cancer as possible. It is then followed by hyperthermic peritoneal chemotherapy, a circulation of warmed chemotherapy drugs throughout the abdomen to kill remaining cancer cells. It is a treatment that has extended the lives of many patients, but not one that can be done at any cancer facility.

Specialists Treating Mesothelioma

Not many medical facilities can boast mesothelioma specialists on staff, but Van Elslander has a leader in the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma in Dr. Richard Berri. A surgical oncologist and the director of the Surgical Oncology and Peritoneal Surface Malignancy program at Van Elslander, he is skilled and experienced in treating this type of mesothelioma and makes sure all eligible patients have access to cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC.

Dr. Berri trained at the even more prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center, a leader in treating all types of cancer, including mesothelioma. Dr. Berri brought what he learned there to Van Elslander and made the cancer center the first in the region to offer the cytoreductive/HIPEC treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma patients. Dr. Berri leads a team of other experts in various fields, including Dr. Michael J. Kraut, an expert in thoracic cancers, and experts in radiology, medical oncology, surgical oncology, and pathology.

Treating Mesothelioma Collaboratively and with Technology

The Van Elslander Cancer Center treats all of its patients through a multi-disciplinary approach. Not many medical centers can provide so many experts in so many different medical fields, all in one location. Patients benefit from this because the experts work together and collaborate to develop the best possible treatment plans for each patient.

These experts come together to treat patients with the most cutting-edge technologies. Van Elslander houses several treatment tools that represent the latest developments in cancer care. These include a machine that allows patients to receive intensity modulated radiation therapy, a more targeted type of radiation therapy that spares healthy tissue.

Patient Support and Wellness

The Van Elslander Cancer Center offers not just advanced medical and surgical treatment for cancers like mesothelioma, but also wellness care. Wellness encompasses a range of needs that patients with a disease like this may have, from mental and spiritual care to care for symptoms and pain management. The caring staff here believe in giving patients everything the need, not just to beat or try to beat cancer, but to live well and to enjoy a better quality of life while undergoing treatment.

The entire facility is designed to help patients relax and heal while focusing on getting better, but it also offers specific services. These include the Cancer Resource Center, which is a library for patients and a place to go to learn. Patients will also find a healing garden, a meditation chapel, an art gallery, and an labyrinth walk to spend time in for reflection and calming.

The Valade Healing Arts Center is located in the Van Elslander Cancer Center, and it offers a variety of wellness services for patients. Patients visiting the center can get massage therapy, reiki, and reflexology services from trained professionals. They can also take Tai Chi or yoga classes or benefit from a session of medical hypnotherapy, designed to help alleviate stress, anxiety, and fear. The Center also offers smoking cessation programs.

Connecting Mesothelioma Patients to Clinical Trials

The Van Elslander Cancer Center is more devoted to patient care and treatment than to research, but the experts here do rely on leading research to inform how patients are treated. This includes ensuring that patients have access to clinical trials. Researchers use clinical trials to test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments, including drugs, surgical procedures, and new radiation technologies, among others.

Clinical trials rely on actual patients to test these new treatments, and while there are risks, there are also huge potential benefits. These often outweigh any risks, especially for patients with cancers like mesothelioma that are difficult, if not impossible, to cure. Getting access to these trials is important for many patients and the Cancer Center makes all efforts to get them enrolled in the right ones.

The Van Elslander Cancer Center is a leading cancer treatment facility in the Detroit area and is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the region. Patients can expect to get multi-disciplinary treatment with cutting edge technology. For patients with rare cancers like peritoneal mesothelioma, Van Elslander is an important referral center that treats their cancer and also considers wellness.

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