RN Cancer Care Program Navigator:

RN Cancer Care Program Navigator

The RN Cancer Care Program Navigator is a free service offered to patients with a cancer diagnosis. The RN works closely with the primary physician, Medical Oncologist, Radiation Oncologist, Surgeon, and other medical team members, to facilitate care of the cancer patient and family. The patient can call or set up an appointment to meet with the Navigator to answer questions, and concerns. They are available Monday through Friday.
Leann Gooley, BSN OCN, RN, and Patti Stiller-Oge, RN, OCN, Cancer Care Program Navigators can be reached at 406-329-5656

SAVI, the 5 day radiation treatment: The Montana Cancer Center is the only facility in the region to offer SAVI accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI). Women who have a small breast tumor that has not spread to the lymph nodes have traditionally received 6 and one half weeks of whole breast radiation following lumpectomy. And while the traditional lumpectomy treatment is effective, in fact lumpectomy has the same cure rate as mastectomy, many women find it difficult to undergo a long course of radiation treatment. For the past 20 years there has been an increasing use of accelerated partial breast irradiation in selected patients. The SAVI system, short for strut adjusted volume implant, is placed by the breast surgeon within a few weeks of the lumpectomy, the SAVI system allows a seed of radiation (Iridium-192) to be placed into the surgical cavity by a robot through multiple catheters for a short period of time, the dose of radiation is precisely controlled for the 10 minute treatment given twice a day for 1 week. The use of APBI has become a popular and effective alternative to conventional radiation and in facilities with experience with the technique the cure rate is identical to conventional radiation. The Montana Cancer Center was recently honored as a “SAVI Center of Excellence” in recognition for the experience and high standards that have been established for APBI.

Shorter treatments for breast cancer: Not every women is a candidate for SAVI, for women who still want to have a shorter treatment schedule there is increasing evidence that a 16 day course of traditional radiation has the same outcome as the longer 6-7 week course. Known as “The Canadian Regimen” and recently reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientific evidence shows the 16 day schedule to be as effective as the traditional schedule for select women following lumpectomy. Montana Cancer Center is one of the select breast cancer facilities with the success and experience in offering the 16 day treatment.

Image Guided Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IG-IMRT), Montana Cancer Center has recently undergone an extensive upgrade of its facilities and equipment to better serve Western Montana, the addition of a Varian Trilogy Linear Accelerator enables the Radiation Oncology Team to obtain a Cone Beam CT scan prior to each daily treatment for men with prostate cancer, this image guidance (IG) allows extreme precision for treatment with intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), the best way to protect the normal structures while giving safe and effective doses to the prostate cancer.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), has emerged as a new and exciting treatment for prostate cancer. Traditional radiation is given over 9 weeks, SBRT is given in 4-5 treatments. Montana Cancer Center is one of a handful of facilities equipped with the Varian Trilogy Linear Accelerator. SBRT is a technique where very high doses of radiation are delivered with extreme accuracy, through a combination of complicated treatment planning, patient immobilization and precise imaging. The NCCN guidelines, a treatment guideline created by experts in the field of cancer therapy, recognizes SBRT as a cautious alternative to conventional radiation in facilities such as Montana Cancer Center with the experience and technology to safely give the treatment.

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) for early stage lung cancer. For patients who are unable to undergo surgery for their lung cancer SBRT offers new hope where there was none. SBRT uses highly targeted beams of radiation therapy to deliver high doses of radiation in just 3-5 days instead of the traditional 6-7 weeks. Scientific evidence shows impressive long term survival that in some reports is equal to surgery. While surgery is still the standard of care for early non-small cell lung cancer patients, Montana Cancer Center is proud to offer this new and important addition to our Thoracic Oncology Team.

Cancer Registry:
The Cancer Program at St. Patrick Hospital is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer as a Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Program, the highest approval available for a community hospital. For the patient, this means that the staff must adhere to certain guidelines and regulations concerning patient care, the collection and dissemination of data through published reports, various clinical studies and submit to an on-site survey once every three years.

Lifetime follow-up of all cancer patients is one of the primary goals of the Cancer Registry. This process provides reminders to the physicians and the patient to have regular examinations for continued medical supervision ensuring early detection and treatment of a recurrence or early diagnosis of a subsequent cancer. We maintain a 96% follow-up rate on all patients known to be alive.

For additional information or a copy of our annual report you can contact LaDonna Shepard, CTR at 406-329-5649 Nancy Chaffin, CTR at 406-329-5609.

The EMBERS Program is a comprehensive supportive care program designed to meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of our patients. If you are not familiar with EMBERS, it stands for Emotions, Mind, Body, Environment, Relationships, and Spirit. The EMBERS center includes physicians, nurse practitioners, chaplains, dietitians, social workers, and local community partners.  This comprehensive program serves the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of cancer patients across western Montana.

Services provided by the EMBERS Center will be available to all patients actively being treated for cancer at Montana Cancer Center. The model of care for the EMBERS Center includes three key positions:

  • Patient Navigator – The patient navigator is the primary point of contact for patients at the EMBERS Center. The patient navigator is responsible for providing patients and their family members with options for complementary therapies and helping connect patients to these services. In this role, the patient navigator will increase the MCC’s visibility within the Missoula community by working directly with massage therapists, acupuncturists, meditation and spiritual leaders, and physical activity providers, such as yoga instructors.
  • Clinical Nutrition / Registered Dietitian – The EMBERS Center dietitian is responsible for the nutritional care of both the radiation oncology and chemotherapy infusion patients within the Montana Cancer Center. By performing nutritional assessments, implementing nutritional care plans, and serving as a resource for patients with specific nutritional questions, our dietitian ensures that the nutritional needs of all of our MCC patients are being met.  
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – The LCSW at the EMBERS Center provides counseling and mental health services to MCC patients, their families, and their support systems. Access to a highly qualified, specialized counselor helps reduce the stress placed on both patients and their caregivers throughout the course of their cancer treatment.

The goal of this program is to improve the quality of life for our patients while they are undergoing cancer treatment.

Sharon Kaye Davis Counseling Room

The Montana Cancer Center is now equipped with the Sharon Kaye Davis Room.  Sharon’s room serves the community of patients and their families within the Montana Cancer Center as a peaceful place of support and healing.

American Cancer Society Gift Room

While you are at the Montana Cancer Center, please feel free to stop by our Gift Room, provided by the American Cancer Society. In the gift room, you will find a variety of new wigs, new hats, knitted knockers and more, all available for our patients at no cost.