Personalized Cancer Care for the Community

Inova Schar Cancer Institute offers the best in clinical and holistic care

dedication day
Inova cancer survivors and families, community leaders, donors and Inova leaders gather in April to dedicate Inova Schar Cancer Institute (Inova Schar), a department of Inova Fairfax Hospital. Inova Schar opened for patients in May.

As Inova Schar Cancer Institute (Inova Schar) has evolved over the years, one idea has remained the same: the patient is at the center of care. Now a state-of-the-art 430,000-square-foot facility, a department of Inova Fairfax Hospital, Inova Schar is the flagship of a multisite cancer program. From nationally renowned specialists, genetic counselors and emotional support services to groundbreaking research, Inova Schar offers patient-designed amenities on-site, such as local art displays, spa services and a café focused on health. “No one else in the metro DC area offers anything close to this level of holistic care,” notes John Deeken, MD, President, Inova Schar.

In fact, adds Thomas Graves, Vice President, Inova Schar, it’s a model of cancer care that is usually only available at prominent teaching hospitals in the United States. “Unlike traditional community medical centers, this model brings nationally renowned specialists, surgeons, genetic counselors and leading researchers to the patient — all under one roof,” he says.

Graves points out that Inova Schar is the hub of an integrated care network, with locations across Northern Virginia offering the same standard of expertise.

Cancer Innovation Matters

Innovative treatments and technology underlie Inova Schar’s patient-centered approach to cancer care. Here are just a few examples:  

  • Inova Schar is a center for the APOLLO program, a research arm of the National Institutes of Health’s Cancer Moonshot, which strives to profile tumors using proteogenomics, the next level of analysis for precision oncology.
  • Inova Schar is one of the sites for the groundbreaking TAPUR trial being conducted by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, applying targeted therapies across tumor types to patients in need of treatment options.
  • The Molecular Tumor Board gives patients with advanced cancers personalized treatment plans.
  • The Cancer Genetics Program serves individuals concerned about personal and family history.

Cancer Care Down to a Science

The ultimate objective of this research is to provide the most well-rounded clinical care. “It’s our goal to provide the same academic level of care that patients receive at only the best cancer centers in the country,” notes Gopal Bajaj, MD, MBA, Chairman and Medical Director of the Center for Advanced Radiation Oncology and Proton Therapy at Inova Schar. “Working backward from that, we asked ourselves, ‘When a patient comes through our door, how can we provide the broadest spectrum of care possible — from treating the disease to treating the person?’”

Inova Schar delivers on that promise through an integrated team of specialists who include patient coordinators and nurse navigators. One of the cornerstones of Inova Schar is Life with Cancer®, a nationally recognized program offering educational and emotional support. With services located at every Inova Schar location, Life with Cancer offers wellness and exercise programs, seminars, individual and family counseling, and nurse navigation. These services are available to anyone affected by cancer, regardless of where the patient is being treated, at no cost. Based on an evidence-based, integrative approach, certified oncology nurses and licensed clinical therapists provide support throughout the continuum of care.

Life with Cancer’s clinical and emotional resources are centralized at Inova Schar. “Our nurse navigators see patients as individuals and bring together all of the support each patient needs,” says Shairna Bluesteen, Oncology Nurse Navigator, Life with Cancer.

A Destination for Cancer Care

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Valued Partnerships Help Bolster Cancer Care

Located on the 117-acre Inova Center for Personalized Health campus, the $270 million Inova Schar Cancer Center facility was made possible through a $50 million lead gift from Dwight and Martha Schar — as well as contributions from countless members of the Inova community.

Every gift matters in the creation and advancement of this
unparalleled, state-of-the-art cancer care destination. Philanthropic support makes training, education, recruitment of physicians and other activities possible. Philanthropy is the lifeblood of two Inova programs in particular. Some 70% of Life with Cancer®, which provides ongoing education and emotional support along with hundreds of wellness and survivorship classes to cancer patients, is philanthropically supported. Arts in Healing is 100% philanthropically supported.

“These two programs in combination are unique in the United
States,” says Sage Bolte, PhD, Chief Philanthropy Officer and President, Inova Health Foundation. “Generous donations have allowed us to create a holistic healing environment for our patients, family members and caregivers.”

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