The Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute (MMCCI) is the home to the most comprehensive collection of oncology services in northern New England, offering its expertise and resources now to mesothelioma patients. As the state’s leading provider of cancer care, the Maine Medical Center delivers everything from early detection and prevention to clinical trials and state-of-the-art therapies.
MMCCI recently joined the National Cancer Institute’s Community Cancer Centers Program Network, one of 14 hospital-based centers in the country that offer multidisciplinary care and expanded research opportunities for medically underserved populations, including rural communities.
As part of the network, MMCCI was the only center in Maine to receive a $3.5 million award from NCI. The money is designed to increase outreach and develop new programs to make outstanding cancer care more available to underinsured and disadvantaged citizens of Maine.
The 2012 addition of renowned surgeon Tracey Weigel, M.D., as Medical Director of the Comprehensive Thoracic Oncology program gives the institute a boost in credibility regarding mesothelioma, a rare cancer that requires very specialized care. Weigel spent her previous 10 years as part of the mesothelioma team at the University of Wisconsin’s Carbone Cancer Center. She specializes in the surgical treatment of thoracic malignancies that include lung, esophageal and mesothelioma.
Weigel told Asbestos.com she expects to have 10 to 20 mesothelioma patients annually under her care in Maine, where she hopes to duplicate some of her successes from Wisconsin.
“At the Thoracic Oncology Center, we will treat mesothelioma patients in a multi-disciplinary fashion,” Weigel said. “There are excellent, highly experienced, medical and radiation oncology groups (already) on site.”
She also believes that mesothelioma surgery, even the radical extra pleural pneumonectomy, is now considerably safer and more successful because of better chemotherapy drugs, improved anesthesia practices and more effective pre-emptive pain management strategies.
The Institute at Maine Medical Center performs more surgeries for every type of cancer than any other hospital in Maine, translating into outcomes that consistently meet or exceed national standards. MMCCI has more subspecialty-trained surgeons than anywhere else in the state, making it a referral destination for patients.
MMCCI is the only hospital in the Northeast that performs intraperitoneal hyperthermic chemoperfusion (IHCP), which is used for particular abdominal tumors like those found in peritoneal mesothelioma. It also is the only hospital in the state that has the surgical expertise for both primary and metastatic liver cancer, comprehensive treatment for colorectal cancer and the only one doing laparoscopic partial nephrectomy for kidney cancer.
The cancer center is also set apart by its multidisciplinary approach to patient care. The interaction of the radiation, chemotherapy and surgery with the patients is critical to the care received. MMCCI has tumor boards that meet regularly, groups of specialists who gather with nurses, pathologists, social workers and other clinicians to help chart the course for each cancer patient.
The center was selected by the Association of Community Cancers Centers as one of five model programs in the country for its multidisciplinary approach to prostate cancer care.
In 2008, MMCCI established the first patient navigator program in Maine. The program provides chronic disease patients with a professional to help guide them through the health care maze that can be so frustrating.
Navigators at the hospital are part nurse, part patient advocate and part social worker and sounding board. They help set up appointments, explain diagnoses and guide patients through the treatment decision-making process. They can offer advice that goes far beyond the medical services provided at the Institute.
Clinical research is a part in the success of the overall Maine Medical Center. There are more than 250 clinical trials ongoing. Many of them are for cancer and include almost 3,000 patients. MMCCI is the state leader in cancer patients involved in clinical trials, averaging nearly 250 annually.
The hospital teams with the Maine Center for Cancer Medicine, the largest oncology practice in the region, and MaineHealth, a not-for-profit family of providers and other health care organizations to form a comprehensive program stretching across the state.
Being part of the National Cancer Institute’s Community Cancer Centers Program allows it to extend its reach and its research efforts that cover a variety of oncological disciplines.
U.S. News and World Report put the Maine Medical Center as the top-ranked hospital in the state, and five specialties, including cancer, were listed in high-performing categories.
Disclaimer: Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute has no professional affiliation with Asbestos.com.
Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers. Read More