Dr. Rebecca Tuttle of Wright State Physicians is introducing new techniques for fighting cancer
“People think that they can’t get advanced cancer care, particularly surgical cancer care, in Dayton, but they can,” she says.
Tuttle, who is a surgical oncologist, is at the forefront of that advanced care thanks to techniques she is introducing to the Dayton market. One of those techniques is HIPEC, or heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy, which is being used for metastatic colorectal cancer, certain appendix cancers and for cancers of the lining of the abdomen.
“This procedure … we go in the belly and remove all the visible cancer and then we put essentially hot chemotherapy—hot, high-concentration chemotherapy—into the abdomen for 90 minutes while they’re asleep in the operating room to try to kill any microscopic tumors that are left circulating around after my surgery,” she says.
The program is new to the Dayton area and has only been performed on a few patients, but the results so far have been positive.
“HIPEC is potentially curative to patients who otherwise would have had no treatment options. Their five-year expectancy of survival would be close to zero or 10 percent,” Tuttle says. “HIPEC increases that to the 25-to-30 percent range.”
In addition, HIPEC allows patients to take a break from regular chemotherapy for 12-18 months, something Tuttle says patients appreciate, even if it doesn’t make the cancer completely go away.
Another procedure Tuttle is bringing to the Dayton area is Hidden Scar breast surgery. Other doctors in the area do use this technique, but Tuttle says she’s committed to offering it when she can. Hidden Scar breast surgery looks at finding ways to do breast surgery that gives patients less obvious scarring, such as off to the side, under the armpit and underneath the breast.
“Women can look at their breasts, not have an immediately visible scar and not have that constant reminder of their breast cancer surgery,” she says. “We’re really working on our techniques and different ways to do that to improve our outcome both oncologically and then cosmetically, too.”
Tuttle, who is a native of Springfield, choose to return to the Miami Valley after a fellowship in Buffalo, N.Y., at Roswell Park Cancer Institute so that she could work with an organization like Wright State Physicians while being close to home.
“What I think is special about Wright State Physicians is I think as physicians teaching the next generation of physicians is really important,” she says. “I think people sometimes have the misconception that if you go to a teaching practice you won’t get as good of care because you’re going to be operated on by trainees, but the thing is I think that they get better care. Academic medicine is important for training our next generation and at the same time making us all better surgeons.”
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