Incredible Support for Patients with Colon Cancer at Cedars-Sinai

Incredible Support for Patients with Colon Cancer at Cedars-Sinai

Cedars-Sinai logoDedicated to supporting medical research facilities in Los Angeles, Ryan Kavanaugh has offered substantial support to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. One of the leading medical research organizations in the nation, Cedars-Sinai has undertaken a wide range of initiatives, from looking at novel techniques for preventing Alzheimer’s disease to new programs for patients with colon cancer. Cedars-Sinai is home to the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program, part of the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. Sharon Osbourne, a respected entertainment industry personality and the wife of famed musician Ozzy Osbourne, founded the program after winning a personal battle with colon cancer.

To connect other individuals facing colon cancer to the best resources, Ms. Osbourne teamed with the renowned Cedars-Sinai surgeon Dr. Edward Phillips to develop a program to benefit both patients and their loved ones. The program now offers at-home care, transportation services, childcare, and support groups, among other services. In addition, the program provides for better education concerning colon cancer for healthcare providers, so that diagnoses can be made earlier and prognoses can be improved. The program continues to expand its screening and educational outreach to improve outcomes for patients diagnosed with the disease.

Colon cancer affects the large intestine, and is often grouped with rectal cancer, which affects the rectum; together, these conditions are known as colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States for both men and women. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 134,000 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2016, and that the disease will cause 49,000 deaths. Early discovery and treatment lead to greater rates of survival, but medical professionals must be aware of screening techniques, such as colonoscopy, which can find precancerous polyps and prompt their removal.

Greater Support for Patients with Colon Cancer

One of the biggest goals of Ms. Osbourne’s program reflects her own experience with colon cancer. She quickly learned that cancer does not affect just the patient, but rather the whole family. To that end, the program provides a wide range of services to support patients. Perhaps the biggest gift that the program can give is financial assistance to ensure that people receive the clinical care they need without having to worry about how to pay for it. Depending on the individual needs of the patient, care may be partially subsidized or the entirety of costs may be covered.

Sharon Osbourne
Sharon Osbourne | Image courtesy Eva Rinaldi | Flickr

However, financial stresses can extend beyond the cost of treatment. Recognizing this, the program also covers enterostomal therapy services to enable patients to receive care from nurses with special training in the needs of patients with colorectal cancer. Patients may also be paired with dietary and clinical nutritionists who can help them modify their diet during and after treatment. Because colon cancer affects the digestive tract, patients must take special care not to irritate their system, while ensuring they get the nutrition they need to maintain strength over the course of treatment.

Dealing with colon cancer can entail a number of social and emotional issues as well. The program provides social work and case management services so that patients and their family members can talk about these challenges. Talking about cancer can sometimes be onerous and emotionally difficult, so having a trained professional present can help both patients and their loved ones express themselves and ensure that everyone feels like they have been heard. In addition, social workers can help address any additional financial concerns that exist, such as making bills during the recovery period.

When necessary, the program offers special grants for unusual circumstances. These circumstances may include the need for at-home care or childcare if no other adult is available. In addition, the program will cover the cost of transportation to and from appointments if this expense is burdensome.

Currently, the program is in the process of creating subsidized opportunities for colon cancer screenings, so that people of all socioeconomic backgrounds can have the advantage of early detection.

Cedars-Sinai Colon Cancer Research Leads to Better Care

The Colorectal Cancer Center at Cedars-Sinai has the highest volume and shortest length of stay of hospitals in California. In addition, the facility has some of the lowest 30-day readmission rates, largely because of the research occurring at the hospital, which gives patients access to the best and most cutting-edge treatments.

For example, the hospital is now focusing on personalized medicine and offers a simple test for patients with metastatic colon cancer to see if they can benefit from a novel targeted therapy. The treatment, consisting of epidermal growth-factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors, is only effective in patients with a certain genetic profile. By administering the test, oncologists have spared thousands of patients the unpleasant side effects and cost of a treatment that would have no effect. This research represents only one of many projects occurring at Cedars-Sinai to improve treatment for colorectal cancer patients.

Cedars-Sinai also maintains a skilled team of oncologists and colorectal surgeons trained in the most advanced treatments and techniques. The primary treatment for colon cancer is surgical removal of the tumor, and the Cedars-Sinai team implements the newest techniques to increase the odds of complete removal and the swiftest healing possible after treatment. Individuals can learn more about specific surgical techniques and other treatments available at the hospital online at Cedars-Sinai.edu.