In 2020, St. Elizabeth Healthcare celebrated the opening of its new state-of-the-art Cancer Center. The center is unique due to its ability to bring all different specialists to the patient, rather than getting care from multiple places. Imaging is done right at the Cancer Center with radiation oncologists. An on-site pharmacy takes care of medication, and clinical research services are together as well. Patients have access to integrated oncology services such as acupuncture, massage, and even a demonstration kitchen.
“It’s been really great to have everything in one place. Being a one-stop shop enables us to focus not just on the cancer but on the patient as a whole,” says Dr. Brooke Phillips, a medical oncologist at St. Elizabeth and co-director for the St. Elizabeth Center for Precision Medicine and Genomic Health. “Plus, we have so much more space now, which means that patients have places they can wait with their family members.”
Oncology is constantly changing, and that’s due, in part, to precision medicine. “It used to be that we diagnosed cancer, and then we used a general treatment for all patients that had that cancer, whether it was chemotherapy, surgery or radiation,” says Phillips. “Now it’s a much more individualized approach as we’re able to understand the specific genetics of that individual cancer and tailor treatment. For example, it might be that, based on genetics, we can avoid chemo and give the patient a pill to treat the cancer. Or maybe we give them immunotherapy and avoid toxicity and complications from chemotherapy.”
Phillips develops unique relationships with her patients, since they are dealing with conditions that can be life-threatening or life-limiting. She sees her patients, along with their spouses and family members, frequently. That’s one reason she likes oncology — because of that strong bond that forms.
One of Phillips’ main focuses is on hereditary cancer testing. Patients are tested who don’t have a personal history of cancer but perhaps have a family history of cancer or a gene mutation in their family, which increases the risk of cancer. Phillips targets their treatment and follow-up as well.
“If we find a patient has a mutation that might increase their risk of cancer, we can do screening tests, surgery to prevent cancer, or diagnose it in the early stages,” says Phillips. “That’s one of my passions — not just treating cancer but figuring out how we can prevent it.”
Thankfully, in the field of oncology, doctors are seeing improvements in survival. In addition, patients are living longer with less toxicity. St. Elizabeth is dedicated to reducing the area’s cancer rates. With the St. Elizabeth Cancer Center, patients can get the care and support they need in one state-of-the-art place.
St. Elizabeth Healthcare is located at 1 Medical Village Drive, Edgewood, Kentucky 41017. For more information, visit stelizabeth.com/mycancer