News & Events
March 14, 2013
Florida Cancer Specialists Nurse Featured Contributor in ASCO's Clinical Practice Guideline
Diane Cope, ARNP at Florida Cancer Specialists in Ft. Myers is a featured contributor in the American Society of Clinical Oncology's Clinical Practice Guideline. The purpose of her research was to develop an evidence-based guideline on central venous catheter (CVC) care for patients with cancer that addresses catheter type, insertion site, and placement as well as prophylaxis and management of both catheter-related infection and thrombosis. Click here for a detailed synopsis.
March 12, 2013
Fight Sequester Cuts to Cancer Care
As we have informed you, “sequestration” has now been implemented in cutting government spending. Starting on April 1, 2013, CMS will cut Medicare payments to providers by 2%. This is for all claims submitted on or after April 1. A 2% cut to Medicare reimbursement for cancer drugs reduces ASP + 6% to ASP + 4.3% (the 2% cut is on the 80% billed to Medicare; not the patient 20% copay). In actuality, the real impact of a 2% cut is closer to 28%, given that the 6% above ASP, which is intended to cover services above the drug acquisition cost, is being cut to 4.3%.
If you want to stop a drop to ASP + 4.3%, which puts many drugs underwater (i.e., reimbursed at less than total acquisition and service cost), you need to engage your practice and community in a massive outreach to Congress. Members of Congress can help in two ways by:
-- Contacting the White House and CMS to not make destructive payment cuts to cancer drugs; and
-- Asking your Representatives to specifically cosponsor House bill H.R. 800, legislation that will fix the prompt pay problem that artificially reduces drug reimbursement.
This is very simple – unlike last minute patches to stop SGR payment cuts, sequestration is now the law. You have asked how to stop these destructive cuts to cancer drugs. COA is fighting hard in DC on this top priority issue, but this needs an outpouring of response from community oncology practices across the country. In response to requests from the cancer community, the COA Board of Directors -- made up of providers from community oncology practices -- has endorsed providing the following information for practices to engage the help of their members of Congress.
What to Do and How to Do It
There are two basic things you need to do.
Contact Senators and Representatives, Starting with Health Staff
Even if you can get to your Senators and Representatives directly, it is important to educate their health staff as well. Email and call the health staffer and discuss the problem and specifically what the “ask” is of the member. To help you, we have provided the following materials:
for talking points that will help you understand the issue and points, which can be sent to the staffer. Note that COA has worked with ASCO, AmerisourceBergen/ION, and McKesson/US Oncology in arriving at one common message.
As requested from the community, click here
for a list of names and contact information of Senate health staff and click here
for House health staff.
Don't have people make a million calls or send emails directly to the health staffer.
You want a few people to collectively discuss the problem, and what you are asking the Senator or Representative to do, with the staffer. Multiple calls from your community can be made to the general office number but with the health staffer establish a working relationship to gain their help.
Also, use every contact you have to get directly to your Senators and Representatives.
Launch Calls to Senate and House Offices
It is important that the offices of your members of Congress, both in DC and in your state, hear about this issue and hear often from their constituents in the local cancer community. The squeaky wheel gets the grease!
Practices have asked for a simple explanation of the issue for all – everyone in the practice and patients/caregivers/survivors – so we are providing that along with a template letter to patients.
In response to requests from practices, click here
to access the one-pager explaining the issue and the specific message to deliver. Note that on the second page you should fill in the names and both DC and local phone numbers of your 2 Senators in the state and all Representatives covering districts where you have patients. You can get this contact information very easily by going to COA’s legislative action center at http://capwiz.com/co/home/
and putting in the zip codes.
to download the patient template letter (in Word) that you need to customize.
Please contact Ted Okon
at Community Oncology Alliance with any questions, problems, or feedback.
February 22, 2013
Florida Cancer Specialists' Dr. Maen Hussein: CT scans for lung cancer may save lives
As published in The Villages Daily Sun
THE VILLAGES — The American Cancer Society is finally ready to embrace CT scans to save lives, although local cancer doctors said they started this screening push much earlier.
On Friday, the ACS recommended low-dose CT scans, but only for current and former heavy smokers ages 55 to 74 (and only after a frank talk about risks and benefits).
The ACS bases its recommendation on National Cancer Institute data indicating that CT scans reduce lung cancer deaths by 20 percent.
The NCI results were first published in November 2010. And while the ACS took 14 months to champion CT scans, local oncologists moved much more quickly.
“We started recommending CT scans last year after the study was published,” said local oncologist Dr. Maen Hussein, Central Florida Health Alliance. “It takes time to get things going, and it was one of the projects for the co-management committee, so we worked on it and now the program is on.”
“The co-management committee” is the Central Florida Health Alliance Oncology Co-Management Company, which has partnered with The Villages Regional Hospital’s Oncology Program and Lake Medical Imaging since April 2012 to offer $100 lung cancer screenings by CT scan.
Call 751-8585 to see if you qualify for a lung cancer screening.
Village of Santiago resident Nick Jones, who is president of The Villages Airheads, a COPD support group, has long been an advocate of CT scans.
“I can’t tell you how many CT scans I’ve had. They show things that X-rays don’t,” said Jones, who developed COPD after smoking for 42 years.
Unfortunately, many people don’t consider CT scans because the low-dose X-rays are usually an out-of-pocket expense. Hussein is hopeful that will change.
“I hope that Medicare and insurance companies will look into this study and approve the scan for that purpose since it saves lives in high-risk populations,” Hussein said. “I believe it is worth the money to get this scan done, since if it is abnormal, further testing is most of the time covered by insurance.”
In addition to the estimated 20 percent lung cancer death reduction, NCI’s National Lung Screening Trial, which studied 53,454 current and heavy smokers ages 55 to 74, also indicated that CT scans reduce death from any cause by 7 percent.
The NCI study included only older people who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or the equivalent, such as two packs a day for 15 years. Whether screening would help others isn’t known, so scans were not advised for them.
According to the ACS, 220,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year. The disease annually kills more than 160,000 people in the United States.
The ACS formerly recommended screening with chest X-rays but withdrew that advice in 1980 after studies showed they weren’t saving lives.
Standard chest X-rays produce a single image of the whole chest in which anatomic structures overlie one another. CT scans obtain multiple-image scans of the entire chest.
Gary Corsair can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 753-1119, ext. 7907. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
February 6, 2013
Florida Cancer Specialists Nurse to be Honored in Washington DC
Diane Cope, ARNP at Florida Cancer Specialists in Ft. Myers, has been recognized with the 2013 Excellence in Care of the Older Adult with Cancer Award by the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS)
. Diane will be honored during the Opening Ceremonies of the Annual ONS Congress in Washington DC in April. The award is given in recognition and support of an oncology nurse who demonstrates age sensitive health interventions, quality care, and symptom management to older adult patients with cancer.
December 21, 2012
Florida Cancer Specialists’ Physician Named Chief of Staff at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Click here to read the press release
Dr. Rick Brown admires his jersey from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers commemorating his appointment as Chief of Staff for Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Left to Right: Jon Albert, Founder of Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation, Gwen MacKenzie, CEO at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Dr. Rick Brown, Shelly Glenn, FCS VP Marketing & Sales, Debra Betterly, FCS Foundation Manager
December 11, 2012
Teambuilding was never so much fun as it was at the recent FCS Operations Meeting. FCS staffers divided into teams to assemble bicycles, which were then donated to children of FCS patients. Aside from the many laughs (and a few frustrating moments), FCS employees learned that communication and trust are two important elements of great teamwork. Click here to learn more
December 5, 2012
Congratulations to FCS' NP Diane G. Cope, PhD, ARNP-BC, AOCNP. Diane authored Chapter 11 of book "Understanding and Managing Oncologic Emergencies - Second Edition
", which will be used nationwide by oncology nurses. Diane practices with Dr. Bill Harwin
in Ft. Myers.
November 30, 2012
Dr. Jose Alemar
was featured on three segments of the daytime program "Despierta Tampa" on Univision during November, which was National Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Dr. Alemar discussed the CT Lung Screening Program recently instituted at the FCS office in Largo. Click here to view the segments
November 25, 2012
Dr. Bill Harwin
came in 7th overall out of 1700 riders and raised $38,266 for the Sylvester Cancer Center at the University of Miami in the 2012 Miami Dolphins Cycling Challenge
. Dr. Harwin said, “It was a great ride – over 170 miles.” The fundraiser was a two-day cycling event, held annually in November. Click here to learn more
November 2, 2012
Sarasota Memorial doctors install new leaders
Sarasota Memorial’s medical staff recently installed its new leaders for 2012-2013, with hematologist/oncologist Richard H. Brown becoming Sarasota Memorial’s chief of staff. He succeeds outgoing chief of staff John Collins, whose term ended Nov. 1.
As the new chief of staff, Dr. Brown, who practices with Florida Cancer Specialists, will serve as the top representative of Sarasota Memorial’s more than 800 medical staff members. A member of SMH’s medical staff since 1991, Dr. Brown has served as director of Cancer Care Services since 1998. He has been an investigator in multiple clinical trials and published in several national publications. A previous SMH physician of the year award recipient, he also has won the Stephen H. Goldman, MD, Keystone Award from the Center for Building Hope (formerly The Wellness Community) for his commitment to the fight against cancer.
Dr. Brown received his medical degree from the University of Vermont and his master’s in business administration from Boston University. He completed his residency and internship at the University of Minnesota and his fellowship in oncology and hematology at New York University.
Click here to read the entire story.
October 29, 2012
For cancer patients, having a knowledgeable and caring oncology nurse can make a big difference. This video includes comments from FCS patients on the vital role these professionals play in ensuring the best treatment experience possible while fighting cancer. View Video.
October 20, 2012
The weekend of October 20th Founder and President Bill Harwin, MD biked at the 5th Annual Ride4Hope. In addition, hundreds of employees and physicians participated at the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Throughout the state, Florida Cancer Specialists supported initiatives by raising money and awareness in the fight against cancer. Click here to learn more about the Annual Ride for Hope.
October 18, 2012
October 14, 2012
Florida Cancer Specialists' patient Debbie Morey served as an honorary captain at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Breast Cancer Awareness game on October 14, 2012. She was selected for her incredible fight against Breast Cancer. View video.
October 12, 2012
On NBC2’s “Health Matters” program, Dr. Bill Harwin, Founder and President of Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, explains the potential impact of weight for breast cancer recurrence.
Click here for the TV interview.
September 10, 2012
The Tampa Bay Business Journal
recently announced the finalists for the 2012 Health Care Heroes
and FCS’ own Tambra Randazzo is a finalist in the volunteer category. Tambra is an RTT (Radiation Therapy Technician) at the Brooksville office
. Tambra leads the Breast Cancer Support Group of Hernando County
and spends a great deal of time fundraising to provide mammogram vouchers for women who do not have insurance and cannot afford such life saving tests.
FCS is a presenting sponsor of the Health Care Heroes Awards
, where Tambra and the other finalists will be honored at a dinner on October 9. Congratulations Tambra! We are so proud of you!
Tambra with the Breast Cancer Support Group of Hernando County
July 27, 2012
Head Nurse Mary Brown Retires After 24 Years
"I’m crying everyday now because this is like my second family."
In the past 24 years, Mary Brown, head nurse at the Cape Coral – Del Prado location, has seen a lot of changes – not only in the treatment of cancer patients, but also within Florida Cancer Specialists. When Mary first joined the practice in 1988, there were only two locations and three doctors, a far cry from the 60 locations, 122 physicians, and 1500 employees we have today! In those early days at the office where Mary has worked for nearly a quarter of a century, there were only three chemo chairs and Mary handled almost everything for the patients by herself. “I would take their blood, run the labs, get the doctor, and do the chemo. There was never a dull moment, that’s for sure!”
Prior to joining FCS, Mary had been a pediatric oncology nurse in Ohio; however, when she moved to Florida there was no children’s cancer center in the area, so she started working with adults. “I was a little worried about working with adults, but I soon realized that they were just like the little kids. They were older and taller – but still just as stubborn!”
Mary agrees that it takes a special type of person to care for cancer patients. “The people who work here have heart – and that’s not something you can teach, it’s something you just have. The work and treatment that we do now at FCS means so much to the patients. They don’t have to go to the hospital anywhere near as much as they did 20 years ago, and they can get the treatment right here in the office with their family and friends close by.”
Mary says that the one thing she won’t
miss is the 10 hour work days that she often had on her schedule. “This is my extended family and I’ve loved working here with all my doctors, staff and patients. I’ve been privileged to have a career that I love.”
FCS will miss you Mary!
June 22, 2012
FCS Cancer Research Program Featured in Medical News, Inc.
Dr. Ralph Gousse becomes the first oncologist/hematologist located in the Apopka community, bringing world-class care to a local community.
Click Here to Read the Article
FCS is setting the benchmark for clincal trials research in a community-based oncology setting. With two drug development units (one in Ft. Myers and one in Sarasota) and a dedicated research team, Florida Cancer Specialists is a national leader in finding new, innovative treatments for cancer. The June issue of Medical News, Inc. spotlighted FCS and its outstanding research team in a statewide edition of the publication. Click here to read the full article
June 20, 2012
Naples Daily News reports how FCS' own Dr. Joel Grossman won the Best Overall Male Mustache prize at the first-ever Mustache Bash, a "fund razor" for the Cancer Alliance of Naples (CAN). The event raised $5,600 which will go towards providing financial aid to cancer patients through CAN. Click here to read the entire article.
May 1, 2012
FCS' own Dr. Lowell Hart won the Dancing with the Docs 2012 Contest! Click Here to see the YouTube video
February 13, 2012
Congratulations to Diane Cope, PhD., ARNP-BC, AOCNP, on the publication of her book Caring for the Older Adult with Cancer in the Ambulatory Setting
. Published in January, 2012 by the Oncology Nursing Society, the book was inspired by ONS’s recognition of the projected increase in the aging population and the need for specialization of geriatric oncology nursing in the future. An ONS Gero-Oncology Think Tank Task Force met in December 2008, with the overall goal to create an organization-wide dedication to the special needs of older adults with cancer; this text is the result of that effort.
Diane works with Dr. William Harwin, President of FCS, in the Ft. Myers Summerlin office. For more information, please click here
October 3, 2011
September 19, 2011
On Monday, October 3, 2011 Florida Cancer Specialists' patients and their children were honored at the Tampa Bay Buccanneers Breast Cancer Awareness game.
The game was preceded by an FCS tailgate where patients, physicians, and staff members gathered and enjoyed great barbecue and other refreshments. 24 children of FCS Breast Cancer Survivors carried flags onto the field at the start of the game. The game was televised nationally on Monday Night Football and kicked off the NFL month-long salute to Breast Cancer Awareness. For photos from the event please visit our photo gallery here. For photos from the event click here.
The Bradenton Herald reports how oncologist Dr. Robert Whorf was drawn to the people side of medicine. Click Here
to read the entire article.
September 7, 2011
Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute held groundbreaking ceremonies today on the site of the new Tampa Cancer Center, located at 3402 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The $10 million facility is scheduled to open in the fall of 2012. Brad Prechtl, CEO of FCS, said, “The Tampa Cancer Center, coupled with the growth of our practice in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, is indicative of our commitment to set a new standard in cancer treatment and to demonstrate the true power of what community oncology can be.”
This new facility will increase our ability to offer unique, state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary oncology treatments that deliver new and personalized cancer therapies, providing renewed hope to an even greater number of cancer patients. Click here
to read the full press release.
August 9, 2011
Florida Cancer Specialists, Optimal Outcomes partner on center
After rapid growth through acquisitions, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute plans to consolidate some of its Tampa offices.
The practice will combine three offices into a single site, a $9.5 million cancer treatment facility that’s being built by real estate developer Optimal Outcomes LLC at 3402 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., next to One Buc Place. Florida Cancer Specialists will be the sole tenant and have an option to purchase the building when it’s completed in the fall of 2012.
It’s among a growing number of new or expanded health care facilities in the Bay area with a total construction cost topping $800 million, according to a Tampa Bay Business Journal survey last spring.
Health care construction is a bright spot for developers, said Patrick Marston, principal and founder of Optimal Outcomes.
“It’s been the most recession-proof industry right now, not that it hasn’t been hit, but not at the same impact. It’s a little more resilient,” Marston said.
Continuity of care
Many of the projects are focused on treating cancer, the second leading cause of death in the United States, surpassed only by heart disease. In Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, the prevalence of cancer is at or above the national average, statistics from the National Cancer Institute show.
The National Institutes of Health has estimated the direct cost for medical care for cancer-related treatment in the United States in 2010 was $102.8 billion. With a 68 percent five-year survival rate for all cancers from 1999-2005, oncology remains a significant unmet need, according to the American Cancer Society .
Florida Cancer Specialists’ new treatment center will provide continuity of care, offering all the services oncology patients need in a single location, said Tim Boozan, vice president of informatics and marketing.
Florida Cancer Specialists, headquartered in Fort Myers and with 42 locations along the west coast of Florida, has grown largely in Tampa through acquisitions, said Glenn Noble, chief financial officer. Three Tampa locations within about a mile of each other — at 4910 N. Armenia Ave., 4301 N. Habana Ave., and 4612 N. Habana Ave. — will be merged into the new two-story, 36,000-square-foot facility.
The new facility will have 13 medical oncologists and a radiation oncologist, once everyone is fully integrated. “We’ll be able to do better scheduling and utilize staff more efficiently,” Noble said.
Investing in technology
The project will include construction of a vault to house a linear accelerator used in radiation therapy. The linear accelerator will be used to provide sophisticated treatments such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy and image guided radiation therapy, attacking cancer cells through precisely targeted high-powered beams of radiation.
“There’s a lot of challenges for hospitals and clinics, whether to invest in new technology in the face of cutbacks in reimbursements,” said Dr. Robert Miller, one of three radiation therapists who opened WellSpring Oncology in Pinellas Park in 2008. “Our philosophy is to continue to try to offer multiple different technologies.”
WellSpring was the first in the state with TomoTherapy, using a CT scanner to provide a 3D image and IMRT and IGTR techniques to hit the exact spot. In May, it added TomoDirect, expanding treatment to a larger patient population.
WellSpring also collaborates with Cyberknife Centers of Tampa Bay, a provider of stereotactic radiosurgery, which is a non-invasive treatment that uses very accurately targeted and large doses of radiation to kill cancer cells. Dr. Frank Franzes, a co-founder of WellSpring, is medical director at Cyberknife Centers of Tampa Bay.
The technology investments have paid off in increased patient volume for WellSpring, said Lan Pratt, executive director. The practice treats about 70 patients on average on a daily basis, many of whom self-refer after hearing advertisements about the technology or reading about it on the Internet.
by Margie Manning, Tampa Bay Business Journal
August 16, 2011
For the fourth consecutive year, FCS President Dr. William Harwin participated in the Pan Mass Challenge, a bike riding event in Massachusetts that raises money for breast cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Backed by over 250 donors and personal supporters, Dr. Harwin rode a total of almost 200 miles in the two-day event and personally raised over $48,000 for breast cancer research. Dr. Harwin stated that he was very impressed by the dedication of those who participated in the event.
According to Dr. Harwin, "At the Friday night opening ceremonies there was electricity in the air as Lance Armstrong spoke well energizing several thousand people in the room. It is remarkable to see the support of thousands of people who cheer you on at various point all along the route. I didn't see Lance ride the first day as he was at the front but both Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown participated. I am attaching a couple of pictures and including one of Eric Winer, the head of breast cancer at Dana Farber, and myself as we are both part of Team Wow."
In all, over 30 million dollars was raised, making this the single largest fundraiser of its kind in the United States. Now, we all understand why Dr. Harwin was a part of Team Wow!
July 12, 2011
Read about Florida Cancer Specialists clinical trials program and current patient: Carmen Ortega. Click Here
to read the entire article.
July 7, 2011
Read Florida Cancer Specialists Dr. George's mention in the Sarasota Herald Tribune: Click Here
to read the entire article.
June 30, 2011
New England Journal of Medicine Publishes FCS Clinical Trial Findings
FCS physician Dr. Luis Chu is one of the authors of a paper appearing last month in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, the oldest continuously published medical journal in the world. Dr. Chu, along with the other researchers, reported on findings of a clinical trial for the prostate cancer drug abiraterone acetate in the treatment of patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). In a clinical trial of 1195 patients, the drug was shown to prolong survival rates for mCRPC patients when used in combination with prednisone. It received approval from the FDA in April of this year, and is now available via prescription through the FCS RxToGo program.
Dr. Chu sees patients at the downtown Sarasota office, and is one of the many FCS physicians participating in clinical trial research and improving the outcomes for cancer patients everywhere. Click Here
to read the entire article.
June 4, 2011
Florida Cancer Specialists is a proud recipient of ASCO's 2011 Clinical Trials Participation Award, awarded to practices that have established high-quality clinical cancer research programs.
Click Here to View Highlights
of some of the most important scientific and educational presentations from Saturday June 4th, at the 2011 ASCO Annual Meeting.
March 29, 2011
FCS is pleased to announce the hiring of our second hematopathologist, Dr. Mojdeh Naghashpour. Dr. Naghashpour has outstanding credentials and is currently working for Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Her first day of employment will be on July 5, 2011.
This is another example of FCS expanding the services we offer to our patients and would only have been possible as a result of our growth over the past few years.
February 10, 2011
é Bella magazine features a revealing article about Florida Cancer Specialists Dr. Susan Morgan.
Click Here to Read 'Prescription for Success'
You can use Adobe Reader to open the article from é Bella.
If you don't have it, you can download it here:
The new Lakewood Ranch Cancer Center brings a team approach to fighting cancer by combining treatment talent under one roof.
to read the full article on Bradenton.com