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Hoag’s Gynecologic Oncology: Cutting-Edge Treatment and Unmatched Compassion

The secret to being the leading provider of gynecologic cancer care in Orange County is teamwork. Hoag treats more women experiencing gynecologic cancer than any other hospital in Orange County because its unique multidisciplinary approach brings together a world-class team that ensures every woman’s treatment is streamlined, personalized, thorough and compassionate.

Hoag’s multidisciplinary team includes fellowship-trained, board-certified gynecologic oncologists, gynecologists, radiation oncologists, nurse navigators, social workers, dietitians, genetic counselors and rehabilitation specialists — all working together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

A cancer diagnosis is scary, and at no point in a woman’s journey do we forget that. Hoag coordinates its approach to gynecologic cancer across a team of experts in prevention, early detection, support and treatment using promising new therapies and complementary care to give patients every possible advantage.

“We know as a high-volume center with specialized oncologists that our patients have better outcomes,” said gynecologic oncologist Alberto A. Mendivil, M.D. “We are a center of excellence for robotic surgery, a hospital committed to clinical research, a dedicated infusion center and a leader in innovative treatment and access to clinical trials. We offer highly-specialized surgery and a dedicated support system. Hoag delivers comprehensive, patient-centered care.”

Hoag has devised a “passport” system to help patients keep track of their entire team, including physicians’ contact information, specialists and resources such as social work, wigs, dieticians, oncologic massage and more. One of the most important phone numbers in a patient’s passport is for the nurse navigator, supported by Hoag donors, who helps guide a woman through her appointments and directs her to important resources.

“Every patient wants holistic care. They want the care continuum to feel like it’s a program, as opposed to pockets of care here and there,” said nurse navigator Sandy Southerland, BSN, RN, OCN. “From the oncologists to the social workers, we are all Hoag, and we are available for your care.”

From left to right Hoag Gynecologic Oncologists John V. Brown, M.D., Lisa Abaid, M.D., Alberto Mendivil, M.D., Tiffany Beck, M.D., and Antonio Castaneda, M.D.

Elevating Hoag’s care is access to innovative clinical trials that are not widely available in other hospitals.  

  • Hoag is offering trials in first-line therapy and for recurrent ovarian cancers. The trials involve adding a drug to the standard treatment protocol women receive and evaluating the potential for increased effectiveness of chemotherapy.
  • A targeted therapy trial in uterine cancer will attempt to block cancer cells from being able to function properly, with the goal of killing the cancer outright.
  • Hoag is offering two trials in cervical cancer, one involving a drug that enhances the effects of radiation and chemotherapy, while another trial uses immunotherapy to “teach” the immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells.

At Hoag, patients enrolled in these trials will be cared for by a board-certified gynecologic oncologist, someone who is specially trained and dedicated to patients diagnosed with gynecologic cancer. Access to these subspecialists helps set Hoag apart and speaks to our patient-centered philosophy.

“The ultimate endpoint is to give patients a treatment that maximizes their quality and quantity of life,” said gynecologic oncologist Antonio Castaneda, M.D. “We want to make sure that we give women the most effective therapies without impacting their quality of life. In the 21st century, we can be doing better with cancer care, and I’m proud to be part of a team that is dedicated to finding a cure.”

Participating in the cervical cancer clinical trials is radiation oncologist Peter Chen, M.D. Hoag’s radiation oncologists play a significant role in the treatment of gynecological cancers such as endometrial cancer and cervical cancer. And Hoag has some of the most advanced equipment available in the country to use in their fight, including advanced external beam systems using helical intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT), as well as vaginal cylinder and tandem and ovoid brachytherapy. Hoag is also one of the few hospitals in the country to offer MR guided adaptive radiotherapy using the ViewRay MRIdian system, which incorporates an MRI scanner with a linear accelerator. This system allows physicians, for the first time, to see and track tumors and surrounding critical organs in real time during treatment, leading to safer and more effective treatments.

“Our gynecologic oncology team is one of the strongest in the nation,” Dr. Chen said. “I’m so happy to participate in all the innovation and advancement of care that occurs here at Hoag.”

Hoag is also a leader in state-of-the-art, minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery and has the highest volume robotic surgery program in Orange County. Hoag also deliver precise radiation therapy, precision medicine using genomic technologies and specialty programs for women at high risk of developing gynecologic cancers.

Hoag was designated by the American Association of Gynecologic Laproscopists (AAGL) and the Surgical Review Corporation as a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology (COEMIG™).

While Hoag’s treatments are cutting-edge, they are also down to earth. Keeping a woman’s entire cancer care journey in mind, Hoag pioneered a Pelvic Health program for pre- and post-treatment rehabilitation to aid with issues such as incontinence and sexual pain following cancer treatment. Specialized pelvic floor specialists are completely integrated into a woman’s oncology team, meeting with surgeons and oncologists monthly as part of the hospital’s tumor board and conferring regularly about a woman’s treatment plan.

“What sets Hoag’s program apart is that we address the whole person,” said Christine Burke, PT, DPT, MHA, PRPC, Clinical Supervisor of the Pelvic Health Program in Newport Beach. “We want to treat the cancer, but it is also important to the woman that we treat issues that can come up due to surgery or radiation. Otherwise we’ve traded one sickness for another. We want to restore a woman to the person she was prior to her diagnosis.”

That deeply human approach to care also informed the design of Hoag’s 18-chair infusion center in Newport Beach, which is dedicated to gynecologic patients. “The comfort a dedicated center brings to women going through chemotherapy cannot be overstated,” Southerland said. “Friendships have been formed among patients at the infusion center and lives have been uplifted.”

To learn more, call 949-722-6237.