A new, one-of-its-kind comprehensive care center specifically for women’s cancers in Wake County — Duke Women’s Cancer Care Raleigh — has already experienced greater volume than anticipated since it officially opened its doors on July 11. But with a multi-disciplinary team of 14 physicians and 65 staff, they are well-prepared.
The fully renovated 35,000-square-foot-clinic, formerly Duke Cancer Center Macon Pond, operates on a team-based model like the Duke Cancer Center in Durham. It boasts some of the top breast surgeons, medical oncologists, radiologists, and hematologists in the region along with highly skilled nurse practitioners and patient navigators all under one roof.
The clinic, which has a special focus on breast cancer, is a one-stop-shop for cancer screenings, exams, biopsies, chemotherapy, radiation, and social and psychological support. Other conveniences include an on-site pharmacy, as well as a lab where patients can get their blood drawn and analyzed the same day.
Clinical social workers, dietitians and other specialists are also on site to provide services that include genetic testing and counseling, clinical research assessment, nutritional and financial counseling, and fittings for bras and breast forms.
“Lisa came to me with advanced cancer; we were able to get her working with Dr. Stacy Telloni right away, and I think she’s a good example of how we can work together as a team and achieve wonderful results,” said Tolnitch of the patient they called ‘mighty Lisa.’ “I hope that we will have many more opportunities to work with wonderful patients like Lisa and have the same wonderful results.”
“With this expansion in Wake County… we can bring Duke quality cancer care to the patients of Wake County, delivered in Wake County,” said Michael Kastan, MD, PhD, executive director of the Duke Cancer Institute, at a July 29 ribbon-cutting formally launching the new center. “We can fulfill this Duke Cancer Institute vision of multidisciplinary cancer care.”
Duke Raleigh Hospital patient Lisa Hickman was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer on February 25 and started treatment on February 29. She was recently declared cancer-free. In a speech at the ribbon-cutting, she thanked the members of her care team, many of whom are now working at Duke Women’s Cancer Care Raleigh, for making her “feel comfortable” and “treating her like family.”
Following the ribbon-cutting, Duke Women’s Cancer Care Raleigh staff had the chance to show off their top-of-the-line technology, including a linear accelerator (LINAC), which delivers radiation to cancerous tumors while sparing damage to surrounding normal tissue; a high-definition 3-D mammography machine best for patients with dense breast tissue; and an X-ray- guided stereotactic biopsy machine.
Radiation therapist Asa Sinclair demonstrated the new LINAC machine.
“This machine can rotate 360 degrees around the patient during treatment,” he said, noting that they’ve treated about 18 patients a day so far with it. “We have the capability to treat every inch of the body.”
Radiologist Alexis Eaves called the three-week-old 3-D mammography machine “pretty swank.”
The new center also includes public and private infusion suites where chemotherapy, iron infusions, supplemental fluids and electrolytes, and blood transfusions are administered.
There is even an on-site boutique with free products and services to help patients look and feel their best. Donated hats, scarves, turbans, and wigs from the Belk Boutique flagship location at Duke Cancer Center are available here free-of-charge.
Duke has had a cancer presence in Raleigh for more than a decade and cancer has been a centerpiece of its partnership with Duke Raleigh Hospital, said Kastan. Duke Raleigh Hospital has already referred several of its patients to Duke Women’s Cancer Care Raleigh.
The linear accelerator is used to treat all parts of the body, delivering high-energy x-rays to the patient’s cancerous tumor.
David Zaas, MD, MBA, president of Duke Raleigh Hospital, thanked DCI for its “commitment to world class cancer care, improving survival, and advancing outcomes through both clinical care and research,” and making that care accessible to the citizens of Wake County.
On behalf of himself and Kastan, Zaas also thanked invited guests Randall Williams (North Carolina Secretary of Health) and members of the Raleigh City Council for their support and recognized the many community groups that partner with Duke in Wake County to improve the health of the community, including Alliance Medical Ministry, Urban Ministries of Wake County, Pretty in Pink Foundation and Holt Brothers Foundation.
“We’re not going to do it alone,” he said.
For more information about Duke Women’s Cancer Care Raleigh and to make an appointment click here or call 919.781.7070. (https://www.dukehealth.org/locations/duke-womens-cancer-care-raleigh) The center, located at 4101 Macon Pond Road in Raleigh, is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.