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Expanding cancer care: St. Elizabeth Cancer Institute expected by 2020

St. Elizabeth Cancer Institute expected by 2020 (WKRC)

EDGEWOOD, Ky. (WKRC) - Northern Kentucky is about to get a big boost in cancer care.

Plans are in the works for a Comprehensive Cancer Center in Edgewood. Dr. Doug Flora has tirelessly worked for months now, to bring this all together.

By the end of the year 2020, a new six-story cancer institute is expected open in northern Kentucky, on the Edgewood campus of Saint Elizabeth Healthcare.

The goal is to bring cancer breakthroughs and services all together in one place in a way this community has not known, until now.

“The idea is we are going to come to you, instead of you coming to us,” said Dr. Flora.

The mission of the new cancer institute is to bring together not just the cutting edge cancer care available now in separate offices, but to put the patient at the center of it.

“Where somebody that specializes only in your tumor type is going to be responsible for saving your life."

Dr. Flora said that this new one-stop shopping for cancer care will have everything from imaging to cancer nutrition and holistic medicine to navigators, personal care providers and financial counselors all in one place.

“For instance, if you have a breast cancer, you are not only going to be seeing a fellowship trained breast surgeon specifically, that surgeon might leave the room the and introduce you to a medical oncologist in the same visit, and then a radiation doctor,” said Dr. Flora.

The reason behind it is that some habits, especially in the state of Kentucky, are driving up the need for it.

“We're now number one in the country for lung cancer diagnosis and lung cancer deaths, we smoke early and we smoke often, we are number one for colon cancer diagnosis, we number four for colon cancer deaths, for this reason the need has outstripped the resources in the community,” said Dr. Flora.

Those numbers mean that people need to look at not just treatment, but prevention.

“We can take a sample of a person’s DNA or saliva and see what their genetic profile is, and that can allow doctors to come up with personalized treatments that are customized based on people’s biology it also allows us to predict, who's got a higher risk of developing cancer and who needs to be screened more closely,” said Maureen Graham, a genetic counselor at St. Elizabeth Healthcare “If we can get these patients into our scanners, identify a stage one lung cancer and resect that by a surgeon, their chances of being cured of cancer are about five times as high as if it's based on symptoms alone.”

One other big piece is that clinical trials will also be offered right onsite at the institute.

Plans are in the works to continue a partnership with the Mayo Clinic, so patients can get lifesaving treatments, not yet available, if other therapies are not successful.

A capital campaign to help raise funds for the center is now underway, it's expected to go into high gear, in the next few months.

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