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The Van Elslander Cancer Center is a part of Ascension Health. Originally known as St. John Providence Health System, Ascension is comprised of multiple hospitals and health care centers and is the largest health care system in southeast Michigan. Located in Grosse Pointe Woods, just minutes from Detroit, the Cancer Center is named for Art Van Elslander, the founder of Art Van Furniture.
Although Ascension has three other cancer centers, Van Elslander provides some of the most cutting-edge cancer treatment in the region. Leading the way with treatments, diagnostic tests, genetic screenings, and patient wellness and support, Van Elslander draws in referrals. These referrals include patients with difficult to treat cancers 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 occurs when tumors grow in the peritoneum, which is the tissue covering organs in the abdominal cavity. This cancer is difficult to treat because it develops as many small tumors rather than one large tumor. Some of these tumors can be too small for surgical removal.
Van Elslander provides an important treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma. This treatment begins with cytoreductive surgery to remove as much visible cancer as possible. Surgery is followed by hyperthermic peritoneal chemotherapy, a circulation of warmed chemotherapy drugs through the abdomen to kill remaining cancer cells. This cutting-edge treatment extends the lives of many patients. However, not all cancer facilities are equipped for this treatment.
Specialists Treating Mesothelioma
Few medical facilities can boast mesothelioma specialists on staff. However, Van Elslander employs a leader peritoneal mesothelioma treatment. Dr. Richard Berri is 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 ensures eligible patients have access to cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC.
Dr. Berri trained at the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Center, a leader in mesothelioma treatment. Dr. Berri brought what he learned to Van Elslander, making it he first facility in the region to offer the cytoreductive/HIPEC treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma. Dr. Berri leads a team of experts, including Dr. Michael J. Kraut, an expert in thoracic cancers, as well as experts in radiology, medical oncology, surgical oncology, and pathology.
Treating Mesothelioma Collaboratively and with Technology
The Van Elslander Cancer Center uses a multi-disciplinary approach to patient treatment. Few medical centers provide this level of varied expertise all in one location, allowing collaborative treatment plans for patients.
These experts come together to treat patients with cutting-edge treatment 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 targeted radiation therapy that preserves healthy tissue while killing cancer.
Patient Support and Wellness
The Van Elslander Cancer Center offers wellness care in addition to advanced medical and surgical cancer treatment. Wellness encompasses a range of patient needs, from mental and spiritual care to care for symptoms and pain management. The staff believes patients should have access to everything they need for health, not just to beat their cancer.
The entire facility is designed to help patients relax and heal. Specific services include a special library for patients, called the Cancer Resource Center. Patients also have access to a healing garden, meditation chapel, art gallery, and a labyrinth walk for reflection.
The Valade Healing Arts Center is located in the Van Elslander Cancer Center and offers a variety of wellness services for patients. Patients visiting the center can receive massage therapy, reiki, and reflexology services from trained professionals. They can also take Tai Chi or yoga classes or benefit from medical hypnotherapy. Medical hypnotherapy is helps alleviate stress, anxiety, and fear. The Center also offers smoking cessation programs.
Connecting Mesothelioma Patients to Clinical Trials
Patient care is the main focus of the Van Elslander Cancer Center. However, patients at the Center can also access clinical trials. Researchers use clinical trials to test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments, including drugs, surgical procedures, and radiation technologies.
Clinical trials use actual patients to test these new treatments. While there are risks, clinical trials also have huge potential benefits. The benefits often outweigh any risks, especially for patients with difficult cancers like mesothelioma. Access to these trials is important for many patients, and the Cancer Center makes all efforts to enroll them whenever possible.
The Van Elslander Cancer Center is a leading cancer treatment facility in the Detroit area and one of the most comprehensive in the region. Patients have access to multi-disciplinary treatment with cutting edge technology. For patients with rare cancers like peritoneal mesothelioma, Van Elslander is an important referral center that not only treats their cancer, but also focuses on their overall wellness.
Page Edited by Patient Advocate Dave Foster
Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available.