The MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where the Washington Cancer Institute is located, was founded in 1958, when three specialty hospitals merged together. In May 1998, the hospital’s parent company – the nonprofit Medlantic Healthcare Group – merged with Helix Health, a group of four hospitals located in Baltimore, Maryland. With that merger, the resulting company became the largest health care provider in the mid-Atlantic, and shortly thereafter changed its name to MedStar Health.
Today, MedStar Washington Hospital Center remains a nonprofit acute care teaching and research hospital and a member of MedStar Health. The hospital employs some 1,400 physicians on its 47-acre campus, which is shared with three other medical facilities. The campus serves and treats more cancer patients than any other cancer program in Washington, D.C.
Washington Cancer Institute specializes in treating peritoneal mesothelioma. Located at the Institute is Sugarbaker Oncology Associates, a practice of Dr. Paul H. Sugarbaker that focuses on the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, including peritoneal mesothelioma. Just 100-150 new cases of peritoneal mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the United States, generally to patients with a history of asbestos exposure. Because the disease lacks symptoms in its early stages, it can be very difficult to diagnose until it has progressed; however, treatment that combines surgery and chemotherapy is under development at several hospitals, including Sugarbaker’s treatment center. Sugarbaker and others work with experts in surgery, radiology and clinical therapies to provide multimodal treatment to mesothelioma patients.
Diagnostic testing such as peritoneoscopy is offered at Washington Cancer Institute in order to remove and assess tissue from the abdominal region. Other testing such as CT scans, biopsies and surgery are also available for doctors to examine the cancer more closely and develop a treatment plan. Peritonectomy, where part of the peritoneum is stripped to remove tumors, and cytoreductive surgery, where as much of the tumor and affected areas are removed, are the most common forms of surgical treatment at the institute. It is often combined with therapies such as hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), which is commonly used to treat advanced cancers in the abdomen. Experts at the institute, such as Sugarbaker, have reported 5-year survival rates of over 50% when surgery is combined with HIPEC.
Nurse navigators are available to patients in order to help them handle appointment scheduling, insurance paperwork and other emotional and physical needs during and after treatment. The surgical oncologists on staff also participate in clinical trials, which help bring advanced treatment options to patients who require complex treatment plans.
- Cytoreductive surgery
- Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
- Minimally invasive surgery
- Palliative care
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy
- ACR and ASTRO Radiation Oncology accreditation
- American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer
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