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Home > Cleveland Clinic Florida: Response to Breast Cancer

Cleveland Clinic Florida: Response to Breast Cancer

Cleveland Clinic was established in 1921 in Cleveland, Ohio, by four doctors who had a vision to create a doctor-led, not-for-profit world-class medical centre. Today Cleveland Clinic is a global enterprise with more than 67,000 caregivers worldwide. The organisation opened a multispecialty group practice in Broward County, Florida, in 1988, which grew to become a leading regional health system with five hospitals across southeast Florida.

Zeina Nahleh, MD, Chair, Department of Hematology-Oncology and Director, Cleveland Clinic Florida Maroone Cancer Center, spoke to REAL LIFE about Cleveland Clinic Florida (CCF) and its work in the field of breast cancer.

RL: What are the key focus areas of CCF treatments?
ZN: Physicians at Cleveland Clinic Florida are experts in the treatment of complex conditions that are difficult to diagnose. They represent more than 55 medical specialities. Core areas include: • Heart and Vascular • Cancer • Digestive Disease and Surgery • Orthopaedics and Sports Health • Neurological • Urology and Kidney • Transplant Center

RL: What services and assistance are offered to international patients?
ZN: Each year, we serve nearly 8,000 patients from over 90 countries and work with patients before, during and after their visit to make the experience as seamless as possible. Global Patient Services is experienced in accommodating international patients and can assist with travel and concierge services. Each patient is assigned a personal Patient Services Coordinator, providing personalised customer service. We also have Insurance Coordinators and Financial Counselors.

RL: Why should a breast cancer patient choose CCF?
ZN: The Maroone Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic Florida provides world-class care to patients with cancer and is at the forefront of new and emerging cancer research. By harnessing the benefits of advanced research and technology, our multidisciplinary team of physicians collaborate to offer cancer patients the highest quality care.

 RL: How is breast cancer diagnosed and treated?
ZN: We make early and accurate detection a priority, offering a variety of advanced diagnostic tools. Current strategies that are used to treat breast cancer include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and surgery. In certain cases, we can use immunotherapy and other targeted agents in cancer treatment. Cleveland Clinic also offers genetic counselling, allowing treatments to be centred around a patient’s unique genetic profile and other cancer risk assessments.

RL: What specialists are there at CCF for breast cancer?
ZN: The Maroone Cancer Center at Cleveland Clinic Florida brings together a unique team of experts from several specialities including breast surgeons, breast medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, breast pathologist, hematologists, radiologists and plastic surgeons.

RL: How has CCF transformed the way patients are treated for breast cancer?
ZN: Cleveland Clinic has taken the lead in using precision medicine, which factors in a patient’s genes, environment and sometimes lifestyle. This approach seeks to understand each patient’s biological makeup, including information coded in his or her DNA, as well as the molecular changes within the cancer cells. This allows us to treat patients with medication that targets the precise genetic mutation, rather than giving treatment based on the location of the cancer, which may or may not work. There are a number of novel targeted drugs developed in recent years that we now use at the Maroone Cancer Center.

RL: What post-treatment therapies and resources are available?
ZN: The Maroone Cancer Center has a comprehensive Wellness and Survivorship program offering a patient resource centre and wig boutique and provides cancer support, therapies and counselling. From art and music therapy to nutrition services, psychotherapy and massage therapy, patients receive holistic care during their journey. We also offer the support of a licensed clinical social worker and a certified patient navigator to help patients access all of the services we provide.

RL: Does CCF also offer breast reconstruction?
ZN: Our unique team approach and the collaboration between breast surgeons and plastic surgeons make it possible for our patients to have a mastectomy and reconstruction at the same time, if they choose. Cleveland Clinic in Florida offers the most advanced form of breast reconstruction using laser assisted angiography, a special imaging technology. Our plastic surgeons are highly skilled in various flap procedures that use a patient’s own tissue from another part of the body to replace missing breast tissue and create a breast shape.

RL: How does CCF help future breast cancer patients through research programs?
ZN: Cleveland Clinic in Florida participates in important clinical trials of new therapies, and patients have access to these trials for every stage of breast cancer. Our cancer specialists are pursuing many promising avenues of research to bring hope to future patients as well.

We have several clinical trials for breast cancer underway, including those focused on expanding the use of immunotherapy. Our researchers are participating in ongoing studies to determine the role of a class of drugs designed to bind with a protein called PDL-1, expressed on certain tumour cells, blocking its interactions to interrupt cancer cell growth and are proving effective in treating breast cancer. These drugs can target specific types of cancer, including oestrogen receptor-negative and certain metastatic breast cancers. In the last two decades, at least 10 different drugs have been developed to specifically target breast cancers, including HER2-positive cancer, which is particularly aggressive, but now can have a prognosis similar to any other type of cancer.

Recent studies at the Maroone Cancer Center have focused on the use of biomarkers for predicting drug response. Other trials are focusing on ways to reduce the cardiac toxicity of certain targeted treatments and exploring ways to detect cancer recurrence using tumour markers in the blood.

The evolution of cancer treatment towards a precision-based approach has led to significant progress in cancer therapy. This ongoing research field aims at one day tailoring all cancer treatment to the genetic changes in each individual’s cancerous cells. Though treating each cancer diagnosis using precision personalised medicine is a long way in the future, the progress achieved to date is already benefiting patients today.


To schedule an appointment or to speak with a Global Patient Services representative:
Call: +1 216.505.1809, +1 954.272.3210 or
Visit: ClevelandClinic.org/BreastCareGPS


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