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Innovation in Action at The Cancer Center

Last Updated Friday, August 12, 2011 2:09:26 PM

The Cancer Center at El Camino Hospital: Leading the Charge Against Cancer

Our comprehensive Cancer Center is an incredibly healing place where surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, nurses, and other experts work closely together to provide our patients with the highest level of care possible. We offer all the latest advances in surgical and medical oncology, in one central location. Our multi-disciplinary team reviews challenging cases in a weekly tumor board, in order to arrive at an optimal, individualized treatment plan for each patient. We are the first West Coast hospital with real-time, high-definition teleconferencing capabilities, which our tumor board uses to consult with other cancer specialists. And because treating the whole person means more than providing medical care, we provide our patients with access to an exceptional amount of support, from nutritional counseling to yoga, survivors’ groups and even art classes, available through our Healing Arts Program. Patients travel from all over the Bay Area and beyond to receive our extraordinarily high level of care and innovative approaches. 

Putting our Patients First: Our 48-Hour Guarantee

A cancer diagnosis is a lot for anyone to process. And, unfortunately, many cancer centers, including some of the most renowned facilities, have patients waiting up to six weeks for their first appointments. We believe newly diagnosed patients should seen right away, to allay their fears and get their treatments started as soon as possible. That’s why we do whatever it takes to guarantee a consult within 48 hours. We understand the stress and worry our patients feel, and feel it’s our responsibility to schedule that initial visit as quickly as humanly possible.

A Healing Combination: Talent and Technology

These days, many hospitals promote their leading-edge technologies. However, owning the latest and greatest equipment is no guarantee that a hospital’s physicians are well versed in its use--or in the best way to apply a technology for effective patient care. Here at El Camino Hospital, we battle cancer with a powerful combination of technology and talent. Radiation oncologists use the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System to fight tumors throughout the body, including the brain, with exquisite accuracy. In such experienced hands, the CyberKnife can focus a radioactive surgical beam on an area smaller than a freckle. We were also one of the first area hospitals to offer high-dose breast brachytherapy, a breast cancer treatment in which radioactive seeds are placed inside the breast after a lumpectomy to deliver the dose of radiation as close to the cancer as possible. With this method, the length of treatment may be as little as one week.

Focus on prevention: Fighting cancer before it starts

While we do whatever is necessary to provide our cancer patients with the best possible care, we are just as engaged in preventing cancer through screening and risk assessment. In fact, we are the first area hospital to offer the REACT clinical trial that is aimed at preventive care. Through the Taft Center for Clinical Research at the Fogarty Institute for Innovation, we are evaluating the Respiragene genetic test, an assessment for lung cancer risk. The study involves both former and current smokers, and our goal is to determine whether the Respiragene genetic test can increase the detection of lung cancer in people without symptoms, potentially saving their lives.

Karen and Roger Sutter: Two People, Three Cancer Diagnoses--One Fantastic Outcome


A single diagnosis of cancer can send a family reeling, but three bouts in five years is more than most can bear. That’s why the Sutters are so grateful for their extended "family" at the Cancer Center at El Camino Hospital. First Roger was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer that did not require immediate treatment. He remained under the watchful eye of Dr. Shane Dormady, when he then contracted throat cancer, completely unrelated to his blood disorder. Around the same time, Karen was diagnosed with rectal cancer. Both husband and wife underwent extensive chemo and radiation therapies, relying heavily on the expertise of Dr. Robert Sinha and Dr. Dormady. Karen was well on the mend when Roger’s original blood cancer took a turn for the worse, and he underwent additional treatment with our experts. Both are now healthy, happy, and grateful to be alive, together. They credit the incredible diligence of our cancer team for their amazing outcome.