Modern medicine: North Carolina health care providers are leading oncology treatment advances.

Position:SPONSORED SECTION: CANCER CARE
 
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Women battling breast cancer need to also care for their hearts. The chemotherapy agent Adriamycin and the immuno-therapy drug Herceptin prescribed to eradicate their cancer damages the hearts of 10% to 30% of patients. Cardiologists and oncologists at Greensboro-based Cone Health have teamed up to make sure it doesn't happen to their patients.

Dan Bensimhon, medical director of Cone Health's Advanced Heart Failure Clinic, was concerned that many breast-cancer patients treated with the two drugs weren't being screened for heart-muscle damage. So he led the creation of a cardiology-oncology clinic, where patients undergo echocardiograms every three months, and doctors look for small changes in heart contractions. "If we catch the problem soon enough, we can put the chemotherapy on hold until the heart recovers, and then we can often restart the medicines and let a patient finish her chemotherapy while we protect her heart."

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About 140 North Carolinians are diagnosed and 50 die from cancer each day, according to Raleigh-based North Carolina Advisory Committee on Cancer Coordination and Control. Cone's cardiology-oncology clinic is one of several working to reduce those numbers.

Technology makes cancer treatments safer and more effective. At Greenvillebased Vidant Medical Center, for example, specially trained brain surgeons wield a Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion tool. It's one of two in the state; the other is used by surgeons at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. It uses targeted beams of radiation that create less pain, scarring and recovery time than conventional open-brain surgery with a scalpel. The tool makes it possible to treat conditions once considered inoperable, including certain brain metastases and primary or recurrent malignant tumors. It also can treat nonmalignant brain tumors, vascular malformations and nerve conditions.

Stuart Lee of Vidant Neurosurgery performed Vidant's 1,000th Gamma Knife procedure in September 2015. That was the same month the center became the world's first hospital to use Crosscountry, a lung-biopsy device. It was developed by Dublin-based Medtronic PLC and diagnoses lung cancer early, when it's highly treatable and removable with less-invasive procedures. It's a promising alternative to traditional bronchoscopy, which involves inserting a thin tube-shaped bronchoscope through the patient's nose...

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