AHN adds innovative liver cancer treatment, cancer fitness program to range of services offered at North Hills

North Hills residents can now receive life-saving liver cancer treatment at AHN Wexford Hospital in Pine, instead of having to travel to Pittsburgh.

The health system is also expanding the role exercise and nutrition can play in the treatment of cancer patients and survivors with a new facility in North Hills led by a physician with a unique background.

Allegheny Health Network officials say providing more access to treatments for liver cancer is critical because it is often not detected until later stages.

Liver cancer cases are also nearly three times higher in men than in women, according to the American Cancer Society.

Although less common in the United States, liver cancer is also among the deadliest forms of cancer in the world, hospital officials said.

Because liver cancer symptoms are often not present in the early stages of the disease, treatment can be challenging when it is finally found, as the tumors are often too large to be removed by traditional surgical means, doctors say .

Late-stage liver cancer often doesn’t respond to chemotherapy, they say.

To combat these problems, minimally invasive radiation therapy, which is used at the AHN Academic Cancer Institute at Allegheny General Hospital, is available at the AHN Cancer Institute at Wexford Hospital.

Known as yttrium-90 or Y90, the “radioembolization” process is a minimally invasive treatment that combines embolization and high-dose radiation therapy to target inoperable tumors in the liver, according to hospital officials.

Embolization is a procedure in which substances are injected directly into an artery in the liver to block or reduce blood flow to the tumor, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Not only can Y90 radioembolization prolong and significantly improve the quality of life of liver cancer patients, it represents a potential lifeline if curative surgery becomes possible,” said Dr. Andrew Klobuka, who recently performed the first procedure with Y90 at AHN Wexford.

Klobuka is lead radiologist at the AHN Liver Cancer Center of Excellence at Allegheny General Hospital in the North Country.

During the treatment, the radioactive isotope yttrium-90 is delivered through catheters directly to the tumors without affecting healthy parts of the body, hospital officials said.

The procedure is designed to slow the growth of tumors and increase the chances of the tumor being surgically removed.

Liver cancer patients and their family members who would like more information about the Y90 therapy offered by AHN can call 412-442-2459. To schedule a cancer-related appointment at AHN or to speak with a nurse about cancer diagnoses, treatments and side effects, call the AHN Cancer Helpline at 412-NURSE-4-U or 412-687- 7348.

Treatment of the whole patient

AHN officials also announced the addition of Dr. Colin Champ, a radiation oncologist who specializes in the role that nutrition and fitness can play in improving the lives of cancer patients and survivors.

Champ will lead a unique oncology exercise program that aims to reduce the side effects of cancer treatment to improve patients’ quality of life and the outcomes of their treatments, according to hospital officials.

The program is offered in a new 2,650-square-foot health and fitness facility located on AGH’s suburban campus in Bellevue.

Champ will also practice radiation oncology at AHN’s Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion, which is adjacent to AHN Wexford Hospital on Perry Highway.

“I am excited to join such an innovative and patient-centered oncology team at AHN while having the opportunity to create a new exercise program for cancer survivors,” said Champ. “I am passionate about healthy eating and exercise, and my goal is to give patients the tools they need to take care of their own health today and in the future.

“As clinicians and researchers, I believe we have just scratched the surface of learning how fitness and good nutrition can impact our patients’ lives for the better,” he said.

Previously, Champ was an associate professor at the Duke Cancer Institute, where his research focused on the interactions between diet, exercise, and metabolism.

The study also evaluated whether weight training and other exercises helped improve overall health and cancer-specific outcomes in patients treated for breast cancer and lymphoma, according to hospital officials.

Studies have found evidence that higher levels of physical activity are associated with a lower risk of several types of cancer, including bladder, breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, kidney, and stomach cancers, according to the National Institute of Cancer Research. cancer.

Obesity has also been found to be a risk factor for a number of cancers and can affect a patient’s quality of life and the likelihood that the cancer will return, according to the NCI.

“Dr. Champ brings to the AHN Cancer Institute a unique combination of expertise in radiation oncology and insight into the interplay between fitness, nutrition and cancer,” said David L. Bartlett, MD, who chairs the AHN Cancer Institute. “His work fits well with our philosophy of treating the whole patient, not just the disease.”

The fitness program at AGH Suburban will initially be open to a limited number of patients who have been referred by their doctor, hospital officials said.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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