What Is the Importance of Having an Institute for Cancer?

February 04, 2019

Nurse and patient at Renown Imaging

What is an institute for cancer — and why does it matter that we have one right here in Reno? Here, a radiation oncologist answers those questions and more. 

Sadly, our community health needs assessment shows cancer is the second leading cause of death in Washoe County. But many residents may not know there is an institute for cancer right here in Reno that can care for you or your loved one after diagnosis. Dr. Michael Hardacre, a radiation oncologist with Renown Institute for Cancer is here with more.

What is an institute for cancer?

The way I like to think of it: An Institute has healthcare providers highly trained in patient-centered care. For example, when you have cancer, many times you’ll see a lot of doctors. A program brings those doctors together — so you really have one team working together. An Institute takes that one step further. Say there are other needs beyond the doctor’s office such as nurse navigators, dietitians, physical therapists to help you get on track, etc. An Institute really proactively thinks of the need of the cancer patient. It then makes sure all those things are available to them throughout their treatment.

The term “institute for cancer” identifies a cancer program that is comprehensive and multidisciplinary in nature. For Renown, that means that we have the specialists in medical oncology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology working together with other specialists to assure that a patient has coordinated care throughout the entire treatment course of cancer care. Together with cancer prevention and diagnostics, genetic assessment, supportive care, clinical trials, and cancer survivorship, the institute for cancer provides care for the community, families and patients along the entire spectrum of cancer care.

What types of cancer do you treat?

We’re fortunate to be able to provide cancer treatments for all types of cancers, and we’re one of the major referral centers for northern Nevada. Most commonly, just like much of the country, lung cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer are the most frequent we see. Our care spans brain, to neck cancer and everything in between.

As an accredited comprehensive community cancer program, Renown Health provides services for all cancer types. The highest volume cancers treated at Renown are breast, colorectal, lung, genitourinary, blood and gynecologic cancers. Most treatments can be done right here in Reno, but when there are specialty needs such as stem cell or bone marrow transplantation, we partner with quaternary centers, like Stanford, to assure a smooth transition of care both to and from the quaternary center.

What kinds of care and treatments are offered?

We offer a wide range of comprehensive care. We treat the cancer itself — surgical, radiation oncology, medical oncology in the form of chemotherapy or pills. Also addressed: dietary needs, physical therapy and navigation through this whole process.

People may be surprised by the scope and scale of the Renown Institute for Cancer. For instance, our Radiation Center has the latest technologies to treat cancers. This includes the Linear Accelerators, which are machines with treatment planning software tools. In addition to the traditional external radiation treatments provided in most centers, Renown performs specialty treatments using High-Dose Brachytherapy, a treatment with an active radiation “source” and in Brain Stereotactic Radiosurgery, assuring that patients can stay right here in northern Nevada — close to home.

What does that mean for the quality of care?

I think it’s always great in any environment to have external people come into your program and not only share what’s happening nationally and what we could do better, but also to validate “are you doing things at the highest level you can?” That accreditation process is just one way to give us that seal of approval. We’re lucky enough this year to get the gold award by the American College of Surgeons — its highest honor. We were honored to receive it.

Why is important that you’re an accredited institute?

Accreditation assures our community that quality is a top priority for us. Each of the accrediting bodies has a set of standards that identify service and quality standards. Renown Institute for Cancer has the following accreditations:

  • American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer: Full Cancer Program accreditation, standards address issues from cancer prevention/diagnosis to treatment to survivorship and/or end-of-life. Renown received the Gold Level Accreditation in 2018, the highest level of accreditation possible;
  • American College of Surgeons’ National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers: Full Breast Center/Program accreditation, standards address issues from breast cancer prevention/diagnosis to treatment to survivorship and/or end-of-life;
  • American College of Radiology – Radiation Therapy: Full Radiation Oncology accreditation for radiation equipment, treatment planning, treatment and treatment follow-up; and American College of Radiology – Mammography Services.

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