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High-Tech Touches

September 14, 2018

Two unique ways talent and technology work in tandem to create innovative solutions and better outcomes

HIPEC: A Direct Pathway for Chemotherapy 

Atlantic Health System’s Carol G. Simon Cancer Center is at the forefront of innovative chemotherapy interventions. One such intervention is hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), in which physicians deliver a highly concentrated, heated chemotherapy treatment directly to the abdomen. When combined with surgery, HIPEC may improve the chances of survival for patients with advanced abdominal and gynecologic malignancies, including colorectal cancer, appendiceal cancer, ovarian cancer and peritoneal mesothelioma.

“We ‘debulk’ the tumor by removing any visible cancer via surgery, and at times this can be very extensive,” explains surgical oncologist Lee Starker, MD, PhD. “Sometimes we’re removing or ablating parts of the liver, colon, small intestine, ovaries, or uterus along with the tumor. When we pair these surgeries with HIPEC, it may increase life expectancy and reduce the rate of cancer recurrence.”

Unlike traditional chemotherapy administered intravenously or orally – which may not reach or affect all cancer cells – HIPEC’s direct administration penetrates tissues in hard-to-reach areas in an effort to destroy microscopic cancer cells to help prevent migration from the treatment zone. Additionally, says Dr. Starker, HIPEC is associated with fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy because the treatment is highly targeted to specific areas – not circulated throughout the bloodstream – so the medication does not attack healthy cells. “We use a higher dosage,” he says.

Most surgical oncologists are not trained in HIPEC but at Overlook, the Atlantic Surgical Oncology group of Dr. Starker, Dr. Lawrence Harrison and Dr. Kai Bickenbach are all highly skilled and experienced with this treatment modality. “We continue to combine excellent clinical care with excellent personalized care, and we are a full-service oncology program,” says Dr. Starker. “We go through all options before we make our recommendations.

For certain patients, HIPEC presents a really good opportunity for safe and effective treatment that improves chances of survival and quality of life, and we’re proud to be able to offer this treatment to those patients.”

Swingobot 2000: A Cleaner Sweep

Overlook’s newest staff member is earning high praise for cleaning and following directions, and also garnering some surprised looks and smiles. At just over four feet tall and more than 1,000 pounds – and bedecked in orange from head to toe – the Taski® Swingobot 2000 catches eyes as it glides and spins. 

 The latest addition to Overlook’s team of robots washes, scrubs and dries the floors of the hospital’s corridors, following pathways and stopping points that are preprogrammed by the housekeeping staff. In use since May during evenings and nights in public hallways (not in patients’ rooms), the Swingobot 2000 – dubbed “Turbo” in a name-the-robot contest among fourth graders at Jefferson Elementary School in Summit – is safe for operators, patients and staff.

“It stops when it senses something,” says Alex Leung, manager of Environmental Services for Overlook Medical Center. “If that item does not move, the machine moves around it to avoid a collision.”

The addition of the new robot does not eliminate the need for any staff members. Rather, it frees up staff members to focus on more detailed care in edges and corners, and spot-cleaning walls. “We’ve been using the same chemicals and the same bucket and mop method for 20 years,” says Leung. “The robot is a way for our department to advance with technology and do an even better job for our patients and visitors. We’re always looking for ways to move forward.”