Innovations in Cancer Care

Research and Innovation

St. Vincent Surgeons:  Leaders in Cancer Treatment

St.Vincent surgeons use the da Vinci® Surgical System

St. Vincent surgeons use the da Vinci® Surgical System to treat cancers. This offers many more options for our patients especially those with challenging cases. St. Vincent is the only EpiCenter in Indiana and a training center for residents – It is 1 of 25 advanced EpiCenter surgical facilities in the U.S.

Lung . Breast. Head and Neck. Gynecologic Cancers 

St. Vincent surgeons are comprehensive and highly trained in treating many types of adult and pediatric cancers. St. Vincent Surgeons were early adopters of robotic surgery techniques that continue to improve recovery times from necessary surgeries to remove (resect) tumors. These surgical techniques and our technical excellence continues to take cancer care to a higher level of quality of care and better outcomes.

  • 3D-High Definition image-guided CT technology and endobronchial ultrasound guidance maps the path to elusive tumors so surgeons can use minimally invasive surgical tools to biopsy and treat.
  • Robotic tools yield better outcomes for women with ovarian and endometrial, for men with prostate cancer and for men and women with bladder cancer.  
  • Overall, minimally invasive procedures are improving surgery recovery times so that necessary chemotherapy or radiation therapy can be started sooner.  

da Vinci® Head and Neck Surgery

St. Vincent Cancer Care = Coordinated Care across many Disciplines

Medical Oncologists, Radiation Oncologists and Surgeons participate on each of the 9
St. Vincent Multidisciplinary Cancer Care Conference Committees:

  • Gynecologic cancers: Ovarian, uterine/endometrial, leiomyosarcoma, cervical, vulvar
  • Breast cancers: DCIS, IDC/ILC, inflammatory, papillary, Paget disease, mucinous, tubular, medullary, colloid
  • Brain and spine cancer: Glioblastoma, astrocytoma, cancer related spinal cord compression
  • Thoracic cancers: Small cell, non-small cell, lung
  • Genital urinary (GU) cancers: Prostate, bladder, ureter, renal/kidney, testicular
  • Malignant Hematology cancers: Leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, MDS
  • Head and neck cancers: Nasopharynx, tonsil/tongue/lip, thyroid, larynx, pharynx   
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers: Gastric, colon, rectal, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, esophageal
  • Sarcomas: Liposarcomas, GI Strodal tumors, Osteosarcomas
  • Skin cancer: Melanomas, squamous cell, basal cell

Minimally invasive robotic surgery is an important tool when treating prostate and bladder cancers

Minimally invasive robotic surgery is an important tool when treating prostate and bladder cancers. These procedures are improving recovery times and overall survivorship. That's especially important when chemotherapy or radiation therapy is needed as a next step but dependent on a certain level of wound healing following the initial surgery. This type of urologic surgery technique also plays an important role in reconstructive surgeries to restore bladder and sexual function. --- Michael Large, MD, Urologist and Urologic Oncologist

St. Vincent Surgeons, Medical Oncologists and Radiation Oncologists, oncology nurses and research associates are also part of national and local clinical trials, as well as,  cooperative cancer research networks.  To learn more, see the St. Vincent Cancer Research page.

St. Vincent surgeons and radiologists are zeroing in on the tumor with new types of radiation technology and therapeutic procedures (for example, implanted seeds to better locate cancerous breast cells; Y-90 microspheres for liver and kidney cancers; brachytherapy (seeds) that treat prostate cancer).  
In Women's Health, breast and plastic surgeons strive to preserve healthy breast tissue and are doing the most advanced form of plastic surgery breast reconstruction.

Medical Oncology

"The role of the St.Vincent Medical Oncologist is like the quarterback on a team. We are often at the center of the cancer care plan – strategizing the next course of treatment, but it is done as a coordinated effort among all those involved – surgical, medical and radiation oncologists, as well as, navigators, oncology nurses, pharmacists, genetic counselors and survivorship associates."
– Dr. Gupta, Hematologist/Medical Oncologists and Chief Medical Officer of St.Vincent Cancer Care

St.Vincent board-certified hematologists and medical oncologists wear many hats:

  • Cancer specialists diagnosing and treating adult blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.
  • Identifying the best medication therapies to treat a specific type and stage of adult cancer, including chemotherapy and other forms of oral and infusion cancer-fighting drugs.
  • Compassionately managing symptoms and pain.
  • Counseling patients and loved ones throughout the survivorship journey, creating critical checkpoints for follow-up care.
  • Coordinating higher levels of care in our community and among the entire St.Vincent Cancer Care Team Network.

The St.Vincent Cancer Care approach blends state-of-the-art chemotherapy/infusion facilities with a high degree of onco-pharmaceutical expertise. Every medical oncology chemotherapy session is specific to your needs at that point in the treatment cycle.

Chemotherapy is a systemic therapy which means the chemo drug circulates through the bloodstream destroying abnormal cells and stops these cells from dividing. These drugs are very strong and work best on cells that are rapidly dividing.
Intravenous (IV) infusion is the most common form of chemotherapy followed by oral medication therapy. In all cases, chemotherapy is closely monitored by the medical oncology team so that symptoms and pain can be managed most effectively.
There are many types of cancer drugs for many types of cancer. Our Medical Oncologists work closely with oncology trained pharmacists to develop a medication regimen that is personalized for your specific type and stage of cancer. The location of the cancer also matters. All of these factors plus personal medical history determines the specific medicine(s), the strength (dosage), and frequency of your chemotherapy sessions.

In some cases, combination medical oncology therapies are used to attack the cancer cells. 

Chemo side-effects

Healthy cells usually repair themselves after the chemotherapy treatment period is over; however, fast-dividing non-cancerous cells (hair, bone marrow, skin, mouth, stomach, and intestines) may be affected by chemotherapy resulting in possible side-effects:

  • Hair loss on the head and body
  • Fatigue, bleeding, low blood count and infection
  • Skin sores and mouth dryness
  • Stomach nausea, GI distress including diarrhea or vomiting

Different medicines are available to help counteract these side effects.
A lack of appetite and fatigue are common complaints. St.Vincent has a dedicated Oncology-trained Registered Dietitian to help you maintain good nutrition throughout your cancer journey. The St.Vincent Survivorship Program offers support and activities such as yoga, art therapy and meditation to help bolster your energy and recovery. Always talk to your physician and any of our cancer care navigators about ways to cope with the daily changes. 

Chemotherapy locations
On the St.Vincent Indianapolis campus there are several Cancer Care Infusion Centers:

  1. St.Vincent Hospital, 6th Floor Oncology Unit – Outpatient Chemotherapy and Infusin Center
  2. St.Vincent Cancer Center, Harcourt Rd, 2nd Floor Chemotherapy associated with those Medical
  3. St. Vincent Fishers Hospital, Outpatient Services
  4. Chemotherapy is also administered at St.Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital and Cancer Center under the direction of the Anderson Medical Oncologists.

A Chemotherapy/Infusion Center is located on the 6th floor of St.Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis

A Chemotherapy/Infusion Center is located on the 6th floor of St.Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis, IN staffed by very experienced oncology nurses, onco-pharmacists under the direction of the St.Vincent Medical Oncologists. The mosaic artwork that graces the halls on the Oncology Unit of St.Vincent Hospital were created by St.Vincent Cancer Survivors through the Survivorship Art Therapy program.

Other types of local support are available through various St.Vincent Ministries and Hospitals throughout Indiana, especially nutritional support. Talk to your St.Vincent Medical Oncologist about home care options and local nutrition guidance and support services.

How to Prepare for the First Chemo appointment

Bring your list of questions – education is a very important part of your total care plan.

Ask a family member or friend to accompany you to your initial session. The length of time varies based on your personal treatment plan but the oncology nurses will give you a schedule so you can better coordinate your day-to-day activities.

Chemo is administered on an outpatient basis and typically involves having an IV started while you are reclining or sitting. During this time you may read or watch TV and talk with visitors. 

Between chemo sessions, as you are able, get plenty of rest, do daily low impact exercise (like walking or swimming) if you feel up to it, and eat a balanced diet full of easy-to-digest foods like yogurt, shakes, and fruit. Meditation, yoga, art therapy and enjoying or playing music can be helpful as well. 

The St.Vincent Medical Oncology approach is very hands on

At any time in the process you can call and talk with your medical oncologists and the nurses and the patient navigators on your care team. During and after the chemo treatment period you will be having frequent physical exams to track your progress and to manage the side effects from the chemotherapy. The recovery process varies greatly, depending on the individual case but always remember that your St.Vincent Cancer Care team is there to help and support you.

Radiation Oncologists

"Our patients inspire us with their courage and determination to continually fine better ways to deliver outstanding cancer care and to heal the marks left by cancer." – Stanley Givens, MD, St.Vincent Radiation Oncologist

At the St.Vincent Cancer Center, Indianapolis, we have the largest Radiation Oncology group in Indiana, treating more cancer patients, especially breast cancer, than similar groups in the Midwest, even the nation. We apply the latest radiation oncology technology to each patient's individualized care plan. Our board-certified physicians embrace St.Vincent's holistic approach to cancer care – meaning, we don't just treat the cancer cells. Each patient's total needs and life goals are important for a stronger recovery. It's part of St.Vincent's Caring Spirit – healing the body, mind and spirit for a more healthful life.

Radiation Oncology scheduling desk 317-415-6750

Primary types of Radiation Oncology services

Image-guided 3D conformal radiation therapy delivers beams of radiation that are shaped to match the tumor. This technology spares healthy tissue, uses higher doses of radiation that can more effectively shrink or kill tumors. This treatment option can apply to lung, breast, prostate, colorectal, and head and neck cancers, as well as melanomas, sarcomas and some pediatric cancers.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) and Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT), based on the Norvalis Tx™platform, delivers a concentrated and precise dose of radiation to the tumor bed using an arc system to pinpoint the cancer cells and position the patient for optimum treatment. This approach saves healthy tissue from irradiation and may be used to treat lung, breast, GYN, brain, spine, liver, and prostate cancers, as well as, blood vessel disorders.  

High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is for prostate, cervix, endometrial, breast, skin, bronchus, esophagus, head and neck and soft tissue sarcoma cancers. It is a form of internal radiation where a catheter is temporarily placed in the tumor site and the radioactive material is placed there for a short time.

Mammosite® Brachytherapy for breast cancer is a type of internal radiation therapy used following a lumpectomy procedure to kill the remaining cancer cells on the margin of the tumor site.

Intraoperative radiotherapy is used when radiation needs to be delivered into the tumor site during surgery. It may apply to many cancers including head and neck, gynecologic cancers, sarcomas, and gastrointestinal cancers.

Radiopharmaceutical therapies use cancer drugs that contain radioactive material. These drugs give off radiation to destroy the cancer cells. This type of therapy is one of the most advanced forms of radiation therapy.  Currently Radiation Oncologists use these therapies for prostate and lymphoma patients with a specific stage and type of cancer.

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