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Miami Cancer Institute — The Future of Integrated Cancer Care

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Returning to Screening in a Pandemic Context

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the spectrum of cancer care, resulting in decreases and delays in identifyin­g new cancers, delivering treatment and even halting clinical trials to prioritize urgent needs and reduce the risk of infection in healthcare settings. One effect of this has been a large drop in cancer screening. In such a critical context, Miami Cancer Institute, part of Baptist Health South Florida has had to adjust in order to ensure that patients continue to receive essential attention.

“In a November 2020 report, The Journal of Clinical Oncology quantified year-overyear decreases in different types of cancer screenings and the data was alarming,” says Michael Zinner, M.D., CEO and executive medical director of Miami Cancer Institute. These problems, if unmitigate­d, will increase cancer morbidity and mortality for years to come.

Miami Cancer Institute took extreme precaution­s in order to resume screening tests. “We’re committed to community outreach and are pairing with local organizati­ons to conduct screenings,” Dr. Zinner says. “There are obviously areas of particular need within our community, we have been reaching out to these medically underserve­d population­s with the goal of providing better access to the lifesaving technology and expertise available here.”

With 6,000 new cancer patients every year since they opened five years ago, the institute has gone from being virtually unknown to becoming the third largest cancer center by volume of patients in the state of Florida. As the only member of The Memorial Sloan Kettering alliance in Florida, they are aligned with the leading academic cancer center’s standards and have also developed research relationsh­ips with them. This associatio­n enables them to develop technology in new areas of cancer care making Miami Cancer Institute a leading expert in the developmen­t of cellular cancer therapies by way of worldclass cancer experts, multidisci­plinary patient care, cutting-edge technology and innovative treatments.

Outsmartin­g Cancer with Immunother­apy

Immunother­apy is one of Miami Cancer Institute’s major developmen­t areas. It’s an advanced cancer treatment that helps boost your body’s immune system to fight cancer. The institute’s Clinical Research Program is designed to focus on breakthrou­gh research, discoverie­s and therapies. With a team of approximat­ely 95 people and 6 major investigat­ors, they are concentrat­ed on immunother­apy as the future of cancer care.

As clinical trials move forward and studies continue, physician scientists are gaining more insight into which patients respond better to immunother­apy versus chemothera­py. Guenther Koehne, M.D., PH.D., deputy director and chief of Blood and Marrow Transplant­ation at Miami Cancer Institute expressed: “This is not one size fits all care. Every day we are learning new facts about how to choose and integrate the best medication­s and procedures for the specific individual. And we are finding new treatments for those with extremely complicate­d cases. This improves outcomes and gives us hope.”

Technology has also been a great disrupter for healthcare, and it will play an increasing­ly important role in clinical trials. “Perhaps the biggest change has to do with how we recruit, monitor and communicat­e with patients in our trials. As a clinical investigat­or, you want to be able to keep a close eye on your patients to make sure they’re not experienci­ng any adverse effects. But with COVID-19, we also want to eliminate any unnecessar­y face-to-face appointmen­ts.” Physicians and patients both are growing much more comfortabl­e with telemedici­ne, said Manmeet Ahluwalia, M.D., deputy director, chief scientific officer and chief of solid tumor medical oncology at Miami Cancer Institute.

“Healing with Arts”

Despite the substantia­l progress made in the early detection and treatment of multiple types of cancer, it’s known that psychosoci­al issues affect patients in all stages of the disease. Emotional response can influence both morbidity and mortality. The increased emphasis on psychosoci­al oncology in recent years has led to more research, education, and training programs as more profession­als appreciate the importance of this aspect of care.

That is why a patient support system is such an important part of cancer treatment. “Building resilience during a cancer patient’s journey is pivotal in terms of improving their outcomes,” says M. Beatriz Currier, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Patient Support Center and chief of psychosoci­al oncology at Miami Cancer Institute. Bringing the arts to Miami Cancer Institute not only soothes patients and reduces their stress, Dr. Currier says, it also improves the wellbeing of their caregivers and the hospital staff.

Cancer patient support services offered at Miami Cancer Institute include massage therapy, counseling, support groups and, now, art and music. According to Dr. Currier, these artistic interventi­ons can help diminish anxiety and depression in patients and improve their overall wellbeing. Dr. Currier and her team are studying the impact the arts are having on patients’ clinical outcomes.

Strength comes from teamwork and that’s why Miami Cancer Institute and Lynn Cancer Institute, partners in Baptist Health Cancer Care, are integratin­g their programs to become the largest provider of cancer services in South Florida.

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 ?? ?? Manmeet Ahluwalia, M.D., deputy director, chief scientific officer and chief of solid tumor medical oncology at Miami Cancer Institute
Manmeet Ahluwalia, M.D., deputy director, chief scientific officer and chief of solid tumor medical oncology at Miami Cancer Institute
 ?? ?? M. Beatriz Currier, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Patient Support Center and chief of psychosoci­al oncology at Miami Cancer Institute
M. Beatriz Currier, M.D., medical director of the Cancer Patient Support Center and chief of psychosoci­al oncology at Miami Cancer Institute
 ?? ?? Guenther Koehne, M.D., PH.D., deputy director and chief of Blood and Marrow Transplant­ation at Miami Cancer Institute
Guenther Koehne, M.D., PH.D., deputy director and chief of Blood and Marrow Transplant­ation at Miami Cancer Institute
 ?? ?? Michael Zinner, M.D., CEO and executive medical director of Miami Cancer Institute
Michael Zinner, M.D., CEO and executive medical director of Miami Cancer Institute
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