Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Institute Pioneers Care in Baton Rouge with Accredited Expertise and Innovative Technology

May 16, 2024 | Cancer

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Each day, physicians in Baton Rouge work side by side and in collaboration with national experts to advance cancer care for Louisiana patients. Through their work, Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Institute has become a regional destination for treatment. 


With multiple national accreditations, the Cancer Institute has proven time and again that its patients receive care for any stage in their cancer journey all under one roof. That excellent care aligns with best practices and incorporates the latest proven technology and treatment methods. 

John Lyons III, MD, a surgical oncologist at Our Lady of the Lake, spoke about the Cancer Institute and how its teams work to improve health outcomes for patients.

How does the Cancer Institute bring together different cancer specialists to help improve treatment for patients?

We first developed multidisciplinary teams because of a grant we received about 10 years ago. We have continued that because we see the benefits. Oncologists who specialize in certain types of cancer meet at least quarterly to discuss patient care. Sometimes, it’s about addressing day-to-day issues like wait times for chemotherapy or biopsy orders. We also have continuing education with guest speakers and discuss treatments that we’ve seen at other cancer centers across the country. 

The idea is that it makes us all better. It sparks a little competitive fire because we want to do the same things in Baton Rouge that they’re doing in other parts of the country.

We also have tumor conferences that meet regularly to discuss individual cases. This is where we bring together physicians, clinical trial specialists, radiologists and other experts. The cases are presented without the patient’s name and we reach a consensus about the best next steps, whether that means more chemo, additional tests, surgery or some other treatment. 

What makes the surgical oncology services stand out at Our Lady of the Lake?

A surgical oncologist is a general surgeon who has had many additional years of training in cancer, including research and clinical fellowships. The surgeries we do here tend to be pretty complex and involve things that others might not be as comfortable with. 

At least once a month, a patient will come to us because another surgeon does not have the resources at his or her center. Most of the time, in those cases we can successfully complete an operation to remove the cancer. 

It’s all about the attitude of the people here. We see these surgeries as a team approach, and everyone is always willing to step up and play their part.

How do Our Lady of the Lake physicians use technology to improve patient care? 

We use AI to look at certain CT and MRI scans to identify precursor lesions, so we don’t miss them with the human eye. We’re also using technology to increase screenings for liver cancer. 

With our electronic medical records (EMR), an automatic reminder is sent to a patient’s primary care provider if they have a concerning liver diagnosis, such as cirrhosis. This reminder prompts them to screen for liver cancer. It’s an opt-out system that removes the potential for human error or oversight.

We’ve also embraced using robotic-assisted surgeries where it makes sense. We started with one robot and now we have seven. When we use a robot, there are four small incisions made, then the robotic arms are placed inside. The surgeon controls the instrument while a nurse and a technician are at the patient’s bedside. 

The visuals are amazing. It’s in 3D and magnified. When you tell it to go somewhere, it goes there and stays. Things like that enable us to do really complicated procedures with a minimally invasive approach, which means quicker recovery times for patients.

What is it like to be able to provide this high-quality care in Baton Rouge?

It’s really rewarding. Most of our patients are within 100 miles of Baton Rouge, which means they can get this care while staying close to home and not having to spend as much time traveling. The people are so resilient and appreciative.  We all feel very fortunate to do this work here.

Learn more about Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Institute as well as cancer services we provide across our health system.

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