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Inspiring Health

a partnership between Franciscan Health and CBS4 Indy

Inspiring Health

Melanoma Cancer Program

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. Our Melanoma Program offers quick access to the highest level of care for early and advanced stage melanoma. Call (317) 528-1420 for a second opinion on melanoma.

Multidisciplinary Care Management

Our multidisciplinary team has expertise in all aspects of melanoma cancer care, including prevention, next-generation treatment options, research and clinical trials.

Melanoma Clinic

In your first appointment, you will meet with a melanoma surgeon. Depending on the stage of your cancer, you may be seen in our Melanoma Clinic by a team of specialists, including surgery, medical oncology, research and others. Together, the team will design a personalized treatment plan for you.

Melanoma Nurse Navigator

Physicians and patients work with a dedicated melanoma nurse navigator who adds a personal touch to the process, helping guide patients on a one-on-one basis along the path from diagnosis through treatment.

The navigator serves as the point person for the care team, reviewing the patient’s history and making appointments based on their needs and treatment recommendations.

Targeted Radiation Therapy

Our radiation oncology team utilizes the most advanced technology available today allowing us to treat the melanoma cancer without damaging the tissue around it. Plaque brachytherapy is a new procedure for patients who have ocular melanoma or melanoma cancer in the eye. This procedure involves placing radioactive seeds into the affected area of the eye. Radiation is released gradually over several days to the specific targeted area. The therapy is relatively painless and is more effective at treating the tumor and minimizing eyesight damage compared to the traditional external beam therapy.

Experts in Melanoma Surgery

Discovering more effective therapies for treating melanoma is ever-evolving. Our dedicated nationally trained melanoma surgeon, Dr. Julianna Meyer, recently visited the prestigious Melanoma Institute Australia, where she shared the scope of her work and learned what other cancer experts are developing in surgical oncology and research. She is one of only a few surgeons in Indiana with this distinctive type of training.

The Institute is a network of melanoma researchers and clinicians based in Sydney and is the largest melanoma research and treatment facility the world.

Videoscopic Inguinal Lymphadenctomy (VIL)

Videoscopic inguinal lymphadenectomy (VIL) uses small incisions and laparoscopic equipment to remove cancerous lymph nodes in the groin.

For certain melanoma patients, this is an effective procedure and offers many benefits over traditional invasive surgical therapy. It reduces the risk of infection and leads to speedier recovery. In most cases, patients only have to stay overnight, often less time than had they undergone an open procedure.

Imylgic

Dr. Meyer also is among the few specialists in Indiana to treat select patients who have melanomas that can’t be removed surgically. It’s called Imylgic, a therapy that uses genetically modified material injected into tumors, which, in turn, directly attacks cancer cells.

The therapy works over the course of two to four treatments, and one benefit is that it can be used time and time again with no lifetime limit, only a limit as to how much a patient can receive in one dose.

Treatment frees Mary from severe asthma symptoms

Imagine a world where you cannot attend your grandchildren’s ball games. Or imagine dreading to go shopping because your struggle to breathe leaves you constantly exhausted. That’s where Mary Dorgan, a 61-year-old lifelong asthmatic, found herself in 2010 after a work-related encounter with Freon landed her in the hospital for a week. At that time she had reached the maximum dosage of asthma medication prescribable and felt as though she was running out of options to regain control of her life.

“In my early twenties, I felt my asthma plateaued for a while – and as I aged I fell under the false assumption I had it under control; but, actually, it had me under control.”

Feeling as if she were all out of options, Dorgan scheduled an appointment with Faisal Khan, MD, a pulmonologist with Franciscan Health Indianapolis, who suggested bronchial thermoplasty, a new treatment for adults who suffer from severe asthma.

Bronchial thermoplasty is unique because for the first time severe asthma can be treated in a physical way, attacking the problem at its source – the lungs,” said Dr. Khan “As in Mary’s case, currently patients with severe, persistent asthma are treated using high doses of medication and many still continue to suffer from frequent asthma attacks.”

People with severe asthma have an excess of smooth muscle tissue lining their lungs’ airways. During an asthma attack, this muscle constricts, making it extremely hard to breathe. Bronchial thermoplasty reduces the amount of excess muscle and helps minimize the narrowing of airways during an asthma attack. Bronchial thermoplasty is an outpatient bronchoscopy procedure that uses mild heat to reduce the amount of excessive smooth muscle in the airways. It is performed in three separate appointments, scheduled three weeks apart. Each session lasts about an hour and focuses on a different part of the lungs. Bronchial thermoplasty does not replace medications; rather, it works with them to reduce the severity and even chances of an asthma attack.

After completing her treatments, Dorgan has never felt better. She is yet to have another severe asthma attack, she said, and she has been able to reduce the number of prescription medications she takes. “I was actually able to take my eldest granddaughter to find a homecoming dress. I only had to sit down once,” she said, smiling, “since my granddaughter is still a bit more energetic than me. But being able to watch her try on and pick out dresses was special, and now that’s a memory we can share.”

This procedure is not for everyone with asthma, said Dr. Khan. An evaluation from a pulmonologist can determine whether you’re a candidate. But if you’ve reached the limit on your medications, Mary Dorgan would certainly urge you to speak with your doctor.

“Bronchial thermoplasty can be life-changing for patients, dramatically improving their quality of life,” said Dr. Khan. “It can help reduce the frequency of asthma attacks, emergency room visits and hospitalizations and days missed from work due to symptoms of asthma.”

Call to learn more about Bronchial Thermoplasty and talk to a nurse navigator at 317-528-PULM or email PULM@franciscanalliance.org

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