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Critical Care Medicine
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Aspirus Regional Cancer Center is the region’s premier cancer and blood disorder treatment provider, offering a full range of advanced diagnostic and treatment technologies.
Aspirus Regional Cancer Center patients and their families share their stories of courage, life and hope as they reflect on their personal journey with cancer.
Our patients say there is a “feeling of care” here – compassionate care that recognizes you as a person who has a life beyond cancer. We understand that cancer affects you and your family physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. Our caring team offers unmatched encouragement, openness, acceptance, commitment and support.
Our medical providers focus on the patients as the focal point of the cancer and blood disorder care delivery. Our team works together for the entire spectrum of diagnoses to provide comprehensive care that includes prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
The Aspirus Regional Cancer Center is dedicated to preventing and treating all forms of cancer and blood disorders and has been granted Approval with Commendation by the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons (ACoS). Receiving care at a CoC-approved cancer program ensures that a patient will have access to:
In addition, Becker's Hospital Review included Aspirus Wausau Hospital on their 2014 list of "100 Hospitals and Health Systems With Great Oncology Programs." According to Becker's, hospitals to be chosen for the list are leading the way in terms of quality patient care, cancer outcomes and research.
The Aspirus Regional Cancer Center is either accredited by, or a member of the following organizations:
There are various types of treatments for cancer and blood disorders, and the one that’s right for you depends many factors.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer or blood disorders, your Aspirus medical provider will work with you to develop the best individualized treatment plan for you. Together you will determine what type of treatment is right for your situation.
Aspirus Regional Cancer Center offers a wide array of treatments and uses the latest technology, including TomoTherapy and robotic surgery.
Click below to learn more about some of the treatments offered at Aspirus Regional Cancer Center:
A patient's diseased bone marrow is replaced or destroyed by anticancer drugs or treatment. The Aspirus Regional Cancer Center staff will coordinate care with your selected transplant program.
Chemotherapy is the use of medicines to treat cancer and blood disorders. When cancer occurs, normal cells in the body divide without any control. Chemotherapy fights disease by stopping these cells from growing and dividing. Chemotherapy drugs come in various forms and can be given in a number of ways. Most drugs are given intravenously (through and IV). Other ways to administer chemotherapy include: orally (by mouth) as either a pill or liquid; an injection in the muscle or in the skin; or rarely, as a cream or lotion applied directly to an area of skin.
Gene therapy changes the expression of a person's genes to treat lethal and disabling diseases, with the potential of preventing disease altogether.
Hormone therapy uses hormones, medications, or surgery to suppress (block) or mimic hormones and alter the growth of hormone-sensitive cancer.
A treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.
Radiation therapy uses high energy, penetrating radiation such as x-rays, gamma rays and electron beams to kill or shrink cancer cells. The Aspirus Regional Cancer Center uses the most advanced scanning and treatment equipment available, allowing doctors to precisely target tumors.
Surgical options for treating cancer vary, depending on the type of cancer. In most cases, surgeries are performed to either partially, or completely remove a tumor or tumors. Some surgeries are performed using traditional methods, where an incision is made for the surgeon to access the tumor. Thanks to advancements in medicine, minimally-invasive surgery is now an option for some types of cancer. At Aspirus, surgeons may perform minimally-invasive surgery for prostate cancer using the da Vinci robot.
Click below to learn more about advanced treatments and technologies available at Aspirus Regional Cancer Center:
3-D Conformal Computer Planning is used to accurately determine the position of tumors in relation to healthy tissues and organs. Three-dimensional information about the patient’s anatomy in treatment planning improves both the precision and accuracy in targeting radiation to the cancer. These images show the 3-D position of a brain tumor.
The Automatic Field Sequencing (AFS) capability on our medical linear accelerators is an advancement in efficient and intelligent radiation therapy, allowing the accelerator to deliver multiple-beam radiation treatments faster then ever before.
Brachytherapy is a very precise and highly effective form of radiotherapy, in which the radiation source that delivers the required dose of radiation is placed in or close to the tumor. The precision brachytherapy approach allows a physician to concentrate a high dose of radiation in a small area, minimizing damage to healthy body tissue and organs over a shorter treatment period.
Referred to by many as robotic surgery for prostate cancer, or robotic prostatectomy, da Vinci Prostatectomy is more accurately a robot-assisted, minimally invasive surgery that is quickly becoming the preferred treatment for removal of the prostate following early diagnosis of prostate cancer. In fact, studies suggest that da Vinci Prostatectomy might be the most effective, least invasive prostate surgery performed today. The surgery is performed with the assistance of the latest evolution in robotics technology, enabling the surgeon to operate with unmatched precision and control using only a few small incisions.
Endobronchial implants can be used to treat most lung tumors seen in the airways using bronchoscopy. A thin plastic tube is placed down the nose into the diseased airway passage of the lung. The bronchoscope is removed, but the thin tube stays in place for about two days, while radiation treatment is given through the tube. Since the tube is lying against the cancer, this in effect treats the cancer from the inside-out.
High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy is a very precise form of radiation therapy in which the radiation source that delivers radiation is placed in or close to the tumor itself. This allows physicians to concentrate a high dose of radiation in a small volume, minimizing damage to nearby healthy body tissue and organs. This treatment method offers short treatment and recovery times. HDR brachytherapy can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with other options and may be used for various types of cancer. However, it is always important to remember that each person is very different and a technology or treatment that may be effective for one person may not be appropriate for others.
Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy Treatment (IMRT) system analyzes three-dimensional images of a tumor and chooses from millions of possible radiation beam arrangements to design the best possible treatment plan. This approach allows Aspirus Regional Cancer Center doctors to attack a tumor with multiple small radiation beams that deliver the greatest treatment dose to cancer cells, while decreasing damage to surrounding normal tissues.
Intracavity gynecologic radiation treatment using GYN implants is often done to prevent local recurrence of endometrial cancer after the uterus has been surgically removed. An applicator is surgically placed in the patient and small tubes containing radiation are placed in the applicator. Once the prescribed radiation dose has been achieved, usually two to four days, the applicator and tubes are removed.
The Linear Accelerator features a Millennium multileaf collimator, capable of delivering the highest resolution of any treatment possible. It is ideal for small, curved tumor treatment fields. With it, radiation oncologists can more precisely "sculpt" radiation beams to closely represent these curved fields.
Multi-modality image fusion is the ability to digitally combine images such as MRI, MRA, CT, PET, and SPECT. The combined images provide the physician with a clearer picture of the position and extent of the tumor or target area as a patient’s radiation treatment is planned.
Respiratory Gating is a technique for making cancer treatments more accurate and effective by adjusting for tumor movements caused by breathing. This allows the radiation beam to turn on only when the tumor falls within the planned treatment field. This image shows the computer tracking breathing motion. The rectangles note when the treatment beam is on and the wave is the patient’s breathing cycle.
In seed implant treatment, tiny radioactive seeds about the size of a grain of rice are placed directly into the prostate using needles guided by medical imaging (usually ultrasound). Rows of seeds are placed uniformly throughout the prostate so the radiation covers the entire gland. The seeds gradually release radiation over 6 to 12 months. After that time, they lose radioactivity and can safely remain in the prostate for the rest of the patient’s life.
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Stereotactic radiosurgery is a new treatment that has the potential to prolong, or save the lives of many patients with brain lesions, or tumors. The procedure combines the technologies of the TomoTherapy Hi•Art System® and the Radionics InterFix Radiosurgery Kit. The InterFix equipment immobilizes a patient, while doctors use TomoTherapy to deliver radiation that conforms to the tumor(s) unlike any other form of radiation therapy.
The TrueBeam™ system is an advanced radiotherapy system that opens up treatment options for some of the most complex cancers in areas such as the head and neck, lung, breast, abdomen and liver. The TrueBeam system’s advanced imaging and powerful treatment modes allow doctors to develop treatments that are best suited for patients’ individual circumstances. TrueBeam rotates around the patient to deliver a prescribed radiation dose from nearly any angle. Treatments with Varian’s TrueBeam are fast – within just minutes a day. This allows for reduced chances of tumor motion during treatment, which helps protect nearby healthy tissue and critical organs. The system includes a new “gated” option for synchronizing beam delivery with respiration. This helps maintain accuracy as the system changes its targeting whenever tumor motion is an issue, for example during lung cancer treatments. TrueBeam can be used for many forms of advanced treatment techniques including image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and RapidArc® radiotherapy technology. TrueBeam radiotherapy is not appropriate for all cancers.
TomoTherapy literally means, 'slice therapy,' and gets its name from tomography, or cross-sectional imaging. The TomoTherapy Hi•Art System® delivers a very sophisticated form of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), and combines treatment planning, CT image-guided patient positioning, and treatment delivery into one integrated system. Its TomoImage® capabilities allow physicians to verify the position of the tumor before each treatment session, so adjustments can be made on the spot to make sure that radiation is delivered exactly where it should be. This results in radiation treatments that conform to tumors like never before which, in turn, minimizes radiation dose to surrounding normal, healthy tissues.
An ultrasound verification positioning system is used with IMRT in the radiation treatment of prostate cancer. The ultrasound verification is used daily before treatment to increase the accurate location of the prostate gland. This compensates for prostate movement due to daily distention of the bladder and rectum, decreasing the amount of healthy tissue irradiated.
When you begin treatment at Aspirus Regional Cancer Center you’ll be introduced to your care team, experienced cancer and blood disorder specialists who will help you navigate the unfamiliar world of disease treatment and provide support throughout the process. Your diverse and talented clinical team will provide you with the most effective treatment possible.
For more information on our physicians, click on “related providers” located to the left of this page, or use our provider search.
For more information on the types of caregivers that make up our treatment team, click below:
These specialists are medical doctors who are experts in treating people with cancer and blood diseases. They will talk with you about the stage and extent of your illness, explain treatment options, and decide with you on a personalized plan of care. They coordinate timing of referrals for radiation therapy and surgery, and continue to follow you through physical exams, lab work and scans after your treatments finish.
You may be referred to see a Radiation Oncologist if radiation is appropriate for your treatment. A radiation oncologist is an expert who specializes in using radiation to treat disease. The radiation oncologist prescribes the treatment to a specific area and works with other team members to develop a treatment plan best suited for you. The radiation oncologist communicates with the physician who referred you throughout your treatment.
These nurses possess a wide range of skills and help implement the plan of care that you and your doctor have agreed upon. They will teach you about your chemotherapy, radiation therapy, side effects you may experience, and how to deal with those side effects. Nurses will answer your phone calls when you call with questions. Most of our nurses are Oncology Certified Nurses, which means that they have passed an examination proving their proficiency in the field of oncology.
Pharmacists in the Aspirus Regional Cancer Center oversee chemotherapy preparation, help you with medication instructions and fill prescriptions written by Aspirus Regional Cancer Center experts.
These therapists have specialized training to deliver radiation therapy as prescribed by the radiation oncologist. Radiation therapists position patients to receive their radiation at each treatment, monitor the patient’s progress, and refer the patient to other team members for care as needed.
These specialists do their work “behind the scenes,” developing a computerized treatment plan to give the radiation dose that the physician has prescribed for each individual patient. Extensive planning and calculating is done and approved before a person can start radiation treatment.
These specialists are responsible for installation of new equipment, establishing the planning systems utilized by the medical dosimetrists, and developing and directing quality control programs for equipment and procedures. They work closely with the radiation oncologist in treatment planning, radiation therapists in delivering treatment, and they oversee the work of the medical dosimetrist and the service engineers who work on the equipment.
These specialists provide nutrition information and education to patients and their family members. This service ensures that individuals receiving treatment understand their unique nutritional needs and have the information and guidance for good nutrition throughout their treatment.
An integral part of your treatment team, they draw your blood and perform your blood tests, which often determine whether or not you can safely receive treatment. They also assist the physicians with procedures that help in diagnosing and evaluating your condition.
Available to help you deal with the stress and uncertainty of your diagnosis, a social worker can offer help with coping, home care arrangements, financial concerns and advance directives. Ask your doctor or nurse if you would like to speak with a social worker at your appointment.
Spirituality means different things to different people. If you are having difficulty adjusting to your illness, you can ask to speak with a Pastoral Care Representative, who can help you deal with issues of spirituality, anxiety about your illness, problems communicating with your family and friends, coping with grief and concerns about death and dying.
Fighting cancer and blood disorders involves more than clinical care. Our patients say there is a “feeling of care” here. Compassionate care that recognizes you as a person… a mom or dad, son or daughter, brother, sister, friend - someone who has a life beyond disease.
We understand that cancer affects you and your family physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. Our caring team offers encouragement, openness, acceptance, commitment and support.
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Our special support services include:
Some patients undergoing treatment will lose their hair. At the Aspirus Regional Cancer Center, we have a donated supply of wigs, hats and turbans available for our patients free of charge. You can make an appointment for assistance with cutting and styling the wigs with a local beautician who donates her time to the Aspirus Regional Cancer Center. If you cannot find a wig in our assortment, your doctor can write a prescription for one to take to any number of salons, which will order you a wig to match your hair color and style.
Our waiting room area features an education center with patient information on specific cancers and blood disorders and related services. You are welcome to view videos, take pamphlets, check out books and use the computer. Volunteers are available to assist if you have questions.
Keeping appointments is important to patients. If you have problems getting to the Aspirus Regional Cancer Center for your treatments, let us know and we’ll help you find assistance available through several different agencies. The American Cancer Society has a program called Road to Recovery where volunteers drive patients to and from appointments. Call the American Cancer Society at 715-848-2881 or 1-800-ACS-2345 to find out if this program will work for you.
Diet is an important part of disease treatment. People who eat well are better able to cope with side effects and fight infection. The dietician on our care team is available to talk with you about what you are eating, what you like to eat, and any eating problems you may be having. The dietician can give you and your family members eating hints designed specifically for you.
The social worker on our team is available to help you deal with the stress and uncertainty of your diagnosis. The social worker can offer help with coping, home care arrangements, financial concerns and advance directives. Ask your doctor or nurse if you would like to speak with a social worker.
Spirituality means different things to different people. If you are having difficulty adjusting to your illness, you can ask to speak with a Pastoral Care Representative. They can help you deal with issues of spirituality, anxiety about your illness, problems communicating with your family and friends, coping with grief and concerns about death and dying.
Translators are available as needed. We strive to ensure that you and your family fully understand the disease and treatment plan, while respecting your cultural needs.
Aspirus Regional Cancer Center is able to offer access to the latest research studies and clinical trials through partnerships with various institutions and pharmaceutical companies.
Through our research affiliation with the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center (UWCCC) in Madison, we are a part of a satellite system called Wisconsin Oncology Network (WON) offering clinical trials to patients with advanced disease. In addition, we are also able to offer federally sponsored studies available through the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and the Radiologic Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG).
Because of Aspirus Regional Cancer Center’s research affiliation with the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCOW), we are able to offer studies through the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP).
Clinical trials are research studies in which people help doctors find ways to improve health and cancer care. Each study tries to answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer.
For a listing of Phase I trials that are being conducted at our affiliate, the UWCCC, please contact:
For a listing of trials available through our affilitate, the MCOW, please contact:
A clinical trial is one of the final stages of a long and careful cancer research process. Studies are done with cancer patients to find out whether promising approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are safe and effective.
Most clinical research that involves the testing of a new drug progresses in an orderly series of steps, called phases. This allows researchers to ask and answer questions in a way that results in reliable information about the drug and protects the patients. Clinical trials are usually classified into one of three phases: