Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute Unveils New Center Designed to Treat and Care for Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer

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Saint Luke’s Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer will combine the latest scientific research, medical treatments and knowledge of integrative therapies to treat women with advanced breast cancer

Timothy Pluard, M.D., Saint Luke's Cancer Institute Medical Director

This week Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute opens the Saint Luke’s Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer, which will provide highly specialized, individualized treatment exclusively for women with metastatic or advanced breast cancer. The center honors Dr. Paul G. Koontz, Jr., M.D. a highly accomplished Saint Luke’s Hospital surgeon recognized for his skilled treatment of breast cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body. While generally not considered curable, women with advanced breast cancer are living much longer, fuller lives due to advances in treatment and management of the disease. However, the vast majority of awareness and research dollars for breast cancer is focused on early stage patients, ignoring a very important population—women with metastatic breast cancer. A study of metastatic breast cancer patients in 2006 found these women often felt “totally abandoned by both the scientific community and the advocacy community.”

The Saint Luke’s Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer has a distinct mission: improve the outcomes and quality of life for women with metastatic breast cancer. The center will offer a unique dual approach to care, bringing together access to the very latest metastatic clinical trials, medical research, and treatment options in combination with integrative supportive therapies such as nutritional planning, exercise physiology, yoga, acupuncture, behavioral health, and spiritual support. Not only will the Center be completely unique to Kansas City, it will be one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind in the nation.

“We recognize each of these women is in a very unique situation and needs a treatment plan designed exclusively for her,” said Timothy Pluard, M.D., medical director of the Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute and the Saint Luke’s Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer. “The Koontz Center will bring together leading edge genomics, medical treatments and clinical trials as well as the latest in integrative therapies and allow us to create an individualized, completely comprehensive plan for each woman.”

Integrative therapies will include:

  •     Nutrition planning
  •     Exercise physiology
  •     Yoga
  •     Acupuncture
  •     Massage
  •     Oncology behavioral health
  •     Spiritual counseling
  •     Advanced breast cancer support groups

In addition to providing important quality of life benefit, the potential impact on long term health outcomes also will be studied.

“We have long recognized that therapies such as exercise or nutrition can help a patient feel better and improve overall quality of life,” said Pluard. “However, oncologists are now beginning to suspect that these therapies, if delivered appropriately, may actually impact tumor progression and overall health and outcomes. Our goal is to be able to provide qualitative data on what those impacts may actually be.”

When a woman contacts the Saint Luke’s Koontz Center after being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, she will be able to meet with a breast cancer specialist within one business day.

“Being diagnosed with cancer of any type is a scary and anxiety filled experience,” said Pluard. “We want these women to be able to meet with our expert team quickly so we can answer their questions, determine their treatment plan and get started immediately managing their care.”

When a patient comes in for her full evaluation it will typically be an all day experience. She will meet with representatives from the entire specialty team, including a medical oncologist as well as members of the integrative therapy team.

At the end of the day, she will have a final consultation with her team and receive a customized treatment plan designed specifically for her. Patients also will receive a video copy of their consultation so they can review and share with friends and family.

“When patients are meeting with their doctors we know they are often overwhelmed,” said Pluard. “They leave and may not remember much of what was discussed or have difficulty fully answering questions from concerned loved ones so having a video of the consultation to take with them when they leave can be incredibly valuable.” In addition, out of town family members also have the option of joining via web conferencing so they can participate and ask questions when the treatment plan is shared.

The Saint Luke’s Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer also will offer video consultations for patients outside of Kansas City.

“Because this is truly a one-of-a-kind center for a highly specialized group of women, we anticipate we will advise and treat women from all across the country,” Pluard said.

The Saint Luke’s Koontz Center for Advanced Breast Cancer is located at Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City. Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute offers care at nine locations throughout the Kansas City region, and provides services through clinical affiliation at Liberty Hospital, Bates County Memorial Hospital and Western Missouri Medical Center. For additional information visit http://www.saintlukeskc.org/koontz or call 855-ONE-SLCI.

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Laurel Gifford
Saint Luke's Health System
+1 (816) 502-8532
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