People in Boca Raton now have local access to the expertise and research from one of the country’s top cancer centers.

Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s Lynn Cancer Institute recently joined the Moffitt Oncology Network, a part of the Moffitt Cancer Center.

I talked with Alan List, president and CEO Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, and Louise Morrell, medical director of Lynn Cancer Institute, about how the partnership will affect the cancer care of people in our community.

1. Less, or maybe no, travel for research studies

Moffitt is a big name in cancer care. It’s one of 41 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers and the only based in Florida.

It’s a tertiary center, meaning it’s a known specialty center where patients can get specialized, cutting edge care. That care includes making research studies available to patients.

In the past, cancer patients in Boca Raton might have had to travel to Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa to participate in research trials on unapproved drugs. Now, many will be able to remain in Boca to take part in these studies.

(Dr. Alan List)

That’s a big deal, especially when you consider that people involved in clinical trials might have to be seen on a weekly basis, List says.

Research studies fall into two groups: studies that look at specific populations and early-phase drug programs, which are trials in new therapeutic drugs.

Morrell says it’s too early to announce specific trials, but local patients will have access to studies breast cancer, lung cancer and melanoma.

2. Collaboration among physicians

In the first phase of this partnership, Moffitt physicians will not physically be on Boca Raton Regional’s campus to deliver patient care. But they will be available for collaboration on that care, according to List.

“We’re going to be working closely by telecommunication,” List says. “You can have different tumor boards together. You can see us, we can see them. Pathology can be reviewed digitally. We can talk about specific cases that may be unusual, complex or rare diseases.”

Working together means using the same clinical pathways of care. These pathways, or algorithms of how providers manage patients, guide physicians and patients into making the best choices treatment, prevention and more, List says.

 The pathways also help centers like Moffitt and Lynn to make sure they’re delivering a high quality of care, cost effectively.

The partnership with Moffitt should elevate an already strong cancer program at Lynn.

(Dr. Louise Morrell)

“We established this cancer program because we wanted to be more than a series of doctors’ offices,” Morell says. “We really wanted a collaborative approach because we understand all the advances in cancer have to [be tied together].”

She says any local cancer patients won’t have to deal with finding multiple cancer specialists because everything they need, from screening to treatment and research, will be available in Boca Raton.

“Partnering with Moffitt in this way is a very important part of our mission … to be able to bring all these advances forward. …it’s really about an entire team,” she says.

There might still be times when a cancer patient has to travel to a tertiary center, like Moffitt, but this partnership should greatly decrease the need for local patients to leave home for optimal treatment.

For more information about Moffitt, go to moffitt.org. For more on Lynn Cancer Center, go to brrh.com/Cancer_Institute.aspx, or call 561/955-5966.