Types of Cancer

Breast Cancer

The Lieselotte Tansey Breast Center at Ochsner was established to provide for the detection and treatment of breast cancer through a multi-disciplinary approach. A medical oncologist, surgeon, plastic surgeon, and radiation oncologist make up the treatment team, and a radiologist reviews each woman's mammograms with the team at the start of each clinic. The patient sees all the physicians involved in her care in a single setting and at the same appointment time, from diagnosis through much of her follow-up care. The physicians are able to consult fully with each other after they have each evaluated the patient and while she and perhaps her family are present. Working together, these specialists, in conjunction with the patient, are able to decide on the treatment course which best meets the needs of each patient. The Tansey Breast Center provides the highest quality breast screening services through risk assessment, early cancer evaluation, advanced imaging techniques and biopsy procedures (many of which can be done on an outpatient basis) and the availability of skilled, experienced support personnel are hallmarks of the Tansey Breast Center. Ochsner is a leader in breast cancer research in the Gulf South, and has participated in studies on both the prevention of and the treatment of breast cancer. Past research has had far-reaching effects on the treatment of breast cancer and patient care. Studies now underway offer the promise of even greater changes. Click here for more information about the Lieselotte Tansey Breast Center at Ochsner.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is the only gynecologic malignancy that can be prevented by regular screening. Screening with the Pap smear has dramatically reduced the incidence of cervical cancer by detecting problems in the pre-cancerous phase. Ochsner Gynecologic Oncologists provide patients with the latest and most up to date diagnostic and treatment methods for abnormal Pap smears and invasive cervical cancer. Treatment of invasive cervical cancer may involve a range of options from conservative surgery with preservation of fertility (when appropriate) through aggressive surgery sometimes combined with radiation therapy and chemotherapy when indicated. Gynecologic Oncology at Ochsner is a leader in cervical cancer treatment in the Gulf South and participates in research studies for the management of early stage as well as advanced and recurrent cervical cancer. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, the gynecologic oncologists work closely with the radiation oncologists and the other members of the Ochsner Cancer Institute providing patients with the latest and most up to date treatment for advanced and recurrent cervical cancer.

Colon, Rectal, and Anal Cancer

Ochsner's colorectal surgeons specialize in the surgical removal of malignancies of the colon, rectum, and anus. They offer a full range of surgical options, and are national authorities on anal and perianal tumors. When possible, the colorectal surgeons perform sphincter-saving surgery for low rectal cancer. In some cases, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are given before surgery to reduce tumor size. Using a multi-disciplinary team approach, Ochsner's colorectal surgeons participate in chemotherapy protocols with Medical Oncology and radiotherapy protocols with Radiation Oncology. They also participate in other research studies, such as ongoing clinical trials to investigate the use of ultrasound-guided surgery for colorectal malignancies. For more information, please visit the Department of Colon & Rectal Surgery.

Gynecological Cancer

Cancers of the uterus, cervix, ovary and lower genital tract are the third most frequent group of malignancies affecting women, and they are the fourth most frequent cause of cancer-related deaths in women. Cancer of the ovary is particularly distressing, as it accounts for approximately half of all deaths due to gynecological malignancies. While headway has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of cervical and endometrial cancer, the early diagnosis and management of ovarian cancer remains a challenge. Gynecologic oncologists, gynecologists specially-trained in cancer management, treat the various cancers that can arise from the female reproductive organs-cancers of the vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries. Gynecologic oncologists complete an additional two or three years of training dedicated to women's cancer care. The gynecologic oncologist is also trained in the chemotherapy management of gynecological cancers. Chemotherapy plays an important role in the management of most ovarian cancers and some cervical and uterine malignancies. In addition to the surgical and chemotherapy management of cancers, gynecologic oncologists are interested in early detection and screening of gynecological malignancies. The Pap smear for cancer of the cervix is the only true screening test in gynecology. While no recognized screening test is available for ovarian cancer, certain individuals may be at high risk and consultation with a gynecologic oncologist may be helpful in the prevention or early detection of this serious disease.

Head and Neck Cancer

For cancers of the larynx and pharynx, Ochsner head and neck surgeons are adept at removing the tumor while sparing as much normal tissue and function of the voice box as possible. They work in conjunction with plastic and reconstructive surgeons when performing surgery of the oral cavity and tongue to produce the most attractive cosmetic result and to preserve speech and swallowing. For tumors of the head, these surgeons are expert in extensive skull base surgery and frequently work in collaboration with members of the Neurosurgery Department. Following some operations, voice rehabilitation or facial nerve rehabilitation, can facilitate a patient's achievement of normal daily living. Ochsner also offers dental implants and facial prostheses, oral reconstruction and rehabilitation through the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States, occurring especially frequently in Louisiana. At Ochsner, the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of lung cancer is a major area of focus. The late Alton Ochsner, MD, one of the founders of Ochsner Clinic and the Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation, was co-author of the initial report in the late 1930s that linked smoking with lung cancer. Dr. Ochsner was also a pioneer in lung cancer treatment. Today, proper diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer is best accomplished by a team of physicians dedicated to care of patients with this illness. Specialists in pulmonary (chest) medicine, radiology and pathology are all important in the early diagnosis of lung cancer, while physicians in medical, radiation and surgical oncology are needed for treatment. At Ochsner, these physicians work as a team. This teamwork includes frequent patient-related conferences as well as use of the latest techniques in combined modality therapy. This approach can permit surgery for complete removal of a lung cancer that otherwise could not have been accomplished or can allow for other treatments to be more effective. Ochsner physicians are world leaders in the treatment of lung cancer and are able to provide the most innovative methods of treatment. This expertise has brought new treatment methods and agents to the community before they were widely available. Combining these treatment approaches with new techniques to reduce side effects of therapy remains a commitment at the Ochsner Cancer Institute.

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the most serious of all gynecologic malignancies since it is frequently diagnosed in its advanced stages. Common symptoms include pressure or fullness in the pelvis, abdominal bloating, progressive changes in bowel or bladder habits, and persistent digestive problems such as upper abdominal discomfort, distention, and gas pains. Since these symptoms are vague and non-specific, it is difficult to detect ovarian cancer in its early stages. The proper diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer is best accomplished by specialists in Gynecologic Oncology. The specialists in Ochsner's Division of Gynecologic Oncology work as a team to provide the patient with the latest techniques in treatment. Primary treatment is surgical debulking followed by aggressive chemotherapy. The Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Ochsner participates in research protocols through the national Gynecologic Oncology Group. This offers patients access to the latest and most innovative methods of treatment. Working as a team with the other members of the Ochsner Cancer Center, the Gynecologic Oncologists provide patients the full range of treatment for ovarian cancer as well as management of pelvic masses where there is a suspicion of ovarian cancer. Additionally, genetic testing is provided for patients with a strong family history of ovarian cancer.

Skin Cancer

Surgeons in the Dermatology Department can remove many skin cancers with conventional surgery. Some surgery can be performed on an out-patient basis in the clinic. Working with plastic surgeons and surgical oncologists, the dermatologic surgeons also provide care for patients with malignant melanoma. Treatments available include psoralen ultraviolet A light (PUVA) therapy in the clinic, photophoresis in the Blood Bank, or total skin electron beam treatment in Radiation Oncology. A research protocol is underway to compare treatment with photophoresis to interferon for selected patients. The Dermatology Department is active in promoting safe exposure to the sun as a means of preventing skin cancer. For some patients, sun damage can be reversed through dermabrasion, chemical peels or the applying of topical retinoids available by prescription, alphahydroxy acids, and other natural acids to the skin.

Uterine Cancer

Most cancers of the uterus begin in the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus. Endometrial cancer is the most common of all gynecologic malignancies. Uterine sarcomas that develop in the wall of the uterus are less common. Common symptoms of uterine cancer include abnormal bleeding after menopause or irregular bleeding before menopause. The Ochsner's Gynecologic Oncologists provide the latest in early diagnosis as well as the full range of treatment options. Many patients can be cured by surgery alone; however, the gynecologic oncologists work closely with the radiation oncologists when radiation therapy is needed. Participating in national studies of the latest treatments through the Gynecologic Oncology Group, the Division of Gynecologic Oncology provides patients with access to innovative treatments for advanced and recurrent uterine cancer.

Urological Cancer

A urologic oncologist is specially trained in cancers of the urinary tracts of men and women, including cancers of the kidney, bladder, prostate, testes and genitalia. At Ochsner, the Division of Urological Oncology focuses on complex surgical problems, using organ- and nerve-sparing techniques, when possible, to preserve urinary, sexual, and reproductive function. Innovative therapies are available through various research protocols, including on-going trials in the prevention and treatment of early disease as well as advanced or metastatic disease. For example, Ochsner has been a pioneer in the implantation of radioactive seeds for the treatment of prostate cancer. For patients with other types of cancer, members of the Urology Department are available to help with incontinence or impotence which may result from cancer treatment. The Ochsner urologists can offer the full range of medical and surgical options.