Aultman Hospital local leader in breast cancer care

Aultman Hospital is the local leader in cancer care. “Aultman is the leader when it comes to cancer care, and specifically breast cancer care. We see and treat the largest number of breast cancer patients here in our community and offer the most comprehensive care,” said Tina Biasella, MSN, RN, NE-BC, vice president of Cancer Services at Aultman Hospital. Last year alone, Aultman diagnosed and treated nearly 300 patients for breast cancer.

—Kelsey Davis with help from Aultman Hospital | Photos provided by Aultman Hospital

Aultman Hospital is the local leader in cancer care.

“Aultman is the leader when it comes to cancer care, and specifically breast cancer care. We see and treat the largest number of breast cancer patients here in our community and offer the most comprehensive care,” said Tina Biasella, MSN, RN, NE-BC, vice president of Cancer Services at Aultman Hospital. Last year alone, Aultman diagnosed and treated nearly 300 patients for breast cancer.

“The services we provide here are ones you typically don’t find at a community hospital and would have to travel to a larger institution for,” Biasella said. The hospital’s multidisciplinary team—made up of surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, nurse navigators and clinical trials nurses—meets weekly to review cases to determine the best treatment for each individual based on all of the clinical information. 

The best treatment is exactly what Aultman offers. Sabrina Shilad, M.D., Aultman’s director of the Breast Program, and other surgeons who are part of the Aultman team, provide breast cancer patients with the utmost care while using advanced techniques. They’re the ones you want taking care of you if you’re diagnosed with breast cancer. Aultman provides breast surgery services for breast cancer and benign breast conditions. The team of experienced cancer professionals guides breast cancer patients with compassion and knowledge.

Leading that team is Dr. Shilad, who has been on staff since 2010. She is the only fellowship-trained breast surgeon in the area, training at the Cleveland Clinic in the Breast Surgical Oncology Program sponsored by the Society of Surgical Oncology. She is also board certified in general surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. 

“There was a big need in the community for a fellowship-trained breast surgeon,” Shilad said. “Women with breast cancer need specialized, focused care. Breast cancer is always changing, and you need to have someone who is really focusing on it so that the women—and even sometimes the men—get the best, most up-to-date treatment available.”

“Our mission is to provide the most up-to-date surgical procedures in a caring and supportive environment, treating everyone as we would want to be treated and emphasizing education and shared decision making,” said Shilad.

She is the only surgeon to offer oncoplastic reduction lumpectomies and nipple sparing mastectomy with hidden scars in the community, saving patients the inconvenience of having to travel far from home for these types of surgeries. In an oncoplastic lumpectomy, both plastic surgery and cancer surgery techniques are used together. Shilad rearranges and moves the breast tissue so that the breast has a better shape and contour instead of an asymmetric appearance. She also offers a procedure called axillary reverse mapping, which is a surgical technique that helps to lower the risk of lymphedema (swelling of the hand and arm), a potential lifelong side effect of breast cancer surgery.

Steven M. Kelly, M.D., FACS, serves as medical director for general surgery and has more than two decades of experience in the field. He works closely with the multidisciplinary Breast Care Center team to offer incisional and excisional biopsies, duct excision, lumpectomy, simple mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, sentinel lymph node biopsy, axillary dissection and more.

“My philosophy with patients is to treat each diagnosis as a unique event, then use our multidisciplinary resources to achieve the best outcome for the patient,” said Kelly. “Put the patient as the captain of the care team and do the best to support them along their journey. I’m grateful to be part of a patient-centric, outcomes-driven, multidisciplinary team that can offer our community the best in diagnostics, treatment, surveillance and support.”

Joseph Saadey, M.D., is a general surgeon who serves as the cancer liaison physician for the Aultman Cancer Program. He has spent his entire career caring for breast cancer patients and has served at Aultman for 24 years.

“Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is a scary time in a person’s life,” he said. “My office staff and I are determined to have our patients seen and treated quickly. We strive to provide a comfortable setting where my patients and I can have a very informative and down-to-earth discussion regarding surgical options. Together, we will decide on a customized treatment plan. I hope to instill confidence that they are receiving the highest-quality surgical care. Also, at Aultman Hospital, every patient receives comprehensive care with multiple specialists working closely together. With this team approach, success rates are very high. I follow my patients for years to come to help assure their long-term success.”

Stephen Lopez, M.D., plastic surgeon, has more than 12 years of experience treating breast cancer patients and performs all types of breast reconstruction surgeries, including implant-based reconstruction and a technique (known as DIEP) that uses the patient’s own tissue.

“My main goal is to do whatever it takes to make the patient feel whole and complete,” he said. “After the disparities breast cancer can cause a patient and their family, I want the patient to feel good about themselves, whether it is the way they look or a renewal of self-confidence to move forward in life.”

The Breast Care Center at Aultman puts the patient’s comfort first, offering a full range of screening and diagnostic services including 3D mammography, high-resolution ultrasound, stereotactic breast biopsy (using an upright, 3D-guided system that improves patient comfort while yielding more accurate results), ultrasound core biopsy and breast MRI. The images obtained from the exams help to screen and diagnose diseases and cancers of the breast. All of these services are available under the guidance of radiologists, and Aultman is the only hospital in the area to have a staff of radiologists who all are fellowship-trained in breast imaging.

The Breast Care Center uses risk assessment tools on all patients who have mammograms, which allows staff members to ensure each patient’s screening needs are met and help them make informed decisions about their care. A nurse coordinator who is certified in breast examination will work with patients to schedule any necessary biopsies following an abnormal mammogram. Having these many services, procedures and physicians available allows for exceptional care coordination and enables the Breast Care Center to tailor the experience to the patients’ needs, keeping the focus squarely on the patient at all times.

Aultman’s Breast Care Center is the first Stark County facility to have earned the “Center of Excellence” designation from the American College of Radiology and is fully accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers. This means the center exceeds all standards of quality breast care.

“The breast center has a radiologist on-site, so I’m able to review the images with the radiologist for all of our cancer patients,” Shilad said. “That allows our patients who have breast cancer to get a very thorough review of everything to make sure that nothing is missed. The radiologists are all fellowship-trained. They’re wonderful, caring, compassionate physicians, and the team is wonderful.”

Aultman also offers comprehensive medical oncology services, with oncologists Shruti Trehan, M.D., and Sunitha Vemulapalli, M.D., specializing in breast cancer care. Both Dr. Trehan and Dr. Vemulapalli have been caring for breast cancer patients for more than 20 years and are dedicated to providing the most comprehensive, up-to-date care for the patients they serve at Aultman. When caring for patients with breast cancer, Dr. Trehan puts the patient at the center.

“We treat each patient’s personalized needs and strive to be there for them throughout their journey, not only as their physician, but also as their friend, mentor and guide,” Trehan said.

“We treat patients with both local and metastatic breast cancer with an emphasis on best clinical outcomes by incorporating the latest approved drugs,” said Vemulapalli. “Aultman’s participation in clinical trials provides optimal care for future breast cancer patients through testing novel agents, and our physicians work with a team of nurses, surgeons, radiation oncologists and navigators to provide complete and comprehensive breast cancer care.”

The Aultman Cancer Center is proud to be advancing cancer care through participation in national and investigator-led research projects. Along with standard treatment, Aultman also offers a host of clinical trials for breast cancer overseen by Trehan, the medical director for oncology research. Trehan is also the principal investigator on a unique, investigator-initiated trial called the “B-TREUH” study, which is designed to evaluate the relationship between thyroid management and metastatic breast cancer.

“I would like to sincerely thank my lovely patients and their families for teaching me about hope and courage,” Trehan said. “Your resilience and grace inspire me to continue working together, researching together and healing together as we aim to cure breast cancer together.”

Additionally, state-of-the-art radiation oncology services are also available at Aultman. The Aultman Hospital Radiation Oncology department combines clinical expertise and advanced radiation therapy to deliver effective treatments for cancerous and benign tumors. Physicians, radiation therapists, dosimetrists, physicists and nurses work together to provide patient-centered, compassionate care while using some of the safest and most efficient technology known today for treating cancer.

Douglas Keyser, M.D., medical director of Radiation Oncology, leads the radiation oncology team and has more than 24 years of expertise. Keyser strives to provide individualized, compassionate, state-of-the-art care for every patient.

“I love working in the hospital where I was born and in the community where I was raised,” said Keyser.

Another integral part of the team at Aultman for breast cancer patients is the nurse navigator. Individuals, families and caregivers who are experiencing cancer diagnoses have complex needs, and breast cancer navigator Erin Meek, BSN, RN, OCN, CN-BN, addresses these needs by supporting individuals through diagnosis and into treatment. The nurse navigator has specialized knowledge and training in cancer and works closely with a collaborative multidisciplinary team to promote an individualized, compassionate and efficient experience at Aultman Health Foundation.

Nurse navigator services include:
• Educating the patient/family on diagnosis and treatment.
• Informing the patient on what to expect prior to, during and after treatment.
• Identifying and addressing barriers to timely diagnosis and treatment.
• Assisting in making referrals and appointments.
• Identifying and facilitating resources to support the patient and family.
• Providing emotional support for patients and their loved ones. 

Nobody wants to get a breast cancer diagnosis, but Aultman makes the whole process that much easier. Each patient’s care team is there every step of the way, providing support and compassion.

“Everyone here cares so much about all of our patients,” Shilad said. “Taking care of women with breast cancer requires a team, and I’m so fortunate to be a part of such an amazing team here at Aultman Hospital.”