Duke Health Referring Physicians


Duke Opens Women’s Cancer Center in Raleigh

Breast cancer. Colored X-ray of the breasts of a woman with breast cancer. There is a malignant (cancerous) tumor (solid yellow mass) in the left breast (red). Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women. The cancer can invade surrounding tissue and spread to other parts of the body (metastasis). Treatment is with removal of the tumor only, where possible, or complete removal of the breast. Surgery is often combined with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Patients with cancer often require multiple visits to various locations on different days to receive care. To address this difficulty, Duke opened the Duke Women’s Cancer Care Raleigh (DWCCR) in North Carolina last July 11. The center offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary care primarily for patients with breast cancer in a single, convenient location.

The center includes health care professionals from 4 specialties: medical oncology, radiology, radiation oncology, and surgical oncology. All 4 are onsite at the clinic and offer services on the same floor.

“Practices are working in a collaborative fashion,” says Lisa Tolnitch, MD, a breast surgeon at the clinic. “The hope is to provide better, more efficient care for the patients by having everything together.”

Carol Hahn, MD, vice chair of radiation oncology who will provide care at the center, agrees: “Optimizing a patient’s cancer therapy involves coordinated care between the specialties. At DWCCR, the patient’s entire oncology team collaborates to develop her best care plan.”

The center offers diagnostic imaging, including computed tomography, ultrasonography, and mammography. In addition, chemotherapy and an infusion center are offered onsite. Other services for general medical oncology and benign hematology are also available.

DWCCR boasts state-of-the-art facilities for the planning and delivery of radiotherapy, offering many women with breast cancer a less-invasive alternative to mastectomy. Hahn notes that the radiotherapy team, led by the radiation oncology specialty and comprising nurses, therapists, dosimetrists, and medical physicists, is dedicated to ensuring the safest and most effective treatment to all patients. Duke radiation oncologists have access to the most up-to-date linear accelerators, which allow them to optimize radiation dosing so that patients are treated with the shortest, most efficient courses of therapy.

A survivorship program for breast cancer is also under development at the center. The program will include physical therapy, nutrition, social support, psychological support, and mammography follow-up. Tolnitch explains that, although other survivorship programs are available to patients, they are often spread across multiple clinics in different locations. 

“The idea is to put all the pieces together and make sure the patients can have access to the whole gamut of care that goes with survivorship,” she says.