Access Magazine Online Winter 2018

« Return to Access Winter 2018

The Saratoga Region's Choice for Cancer Care

Hospital Brings Breakthrough Cancer Treatments to Saratoga

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Saratoga County. This year alone, cancer is expected to kill more than 400 of our fellow residents. Another 1,300 will be told they have the disease.

Thanks to significant investments in technology and talent, the vast majority of these patients can receive the treatment they need at Saratoga Hospital.

Last summer, for example, the Hospital began offering breakthrough interventional oncology treatments that use extreme heat and cold to shrink, and even destroy, tumors. Another interventional procedure—also new to the Saratoga region—uses microscopic

One of the most exciting advances, immunotherapy, has been available to Saratoga Hospital cancer patients for several years. And later this year, a new linear accelerator (LINAC) will expand capacity at the Mollie Wilmot Radiation Oncology Center and enable the Hospital to treat additional types of brain and lung cancers.

“The breadth of experience and level of expertise here is exceptional,” says John Delmonte Jr., MD, Medical Director of Hematology/Oncology for the Hospital. As a result, “greater than 90 percent of the tumors we see can be treated locally.”

This local connection makes a world of difference for patients already experiencing the stress of a cancer diagnosis. They can be treated close to home by people in their own community. Otherwise, they'd face the added burden of traveling long distances for treatment, while managing often uncomfortable side effects.

Dr. Delmonte is a member of Saratoga Hospital Medical Group - Hematology/Oncology and part of a team of medical, surgical, radiation, and interventional oncologists assembled specifically to provide the highest level of cancer care available outside an academic medical center.

Equally important is the way that care is delivered—with an emphasis on collaboration, compassion, and the best possible approach for each patient.

“To me, that's what”s most impressive about Saratoga Hospital. It's also the reason I'm here,” says urologist Seth A. Capello, MD. A member of Saratoga Hospital Medical Group - Urology, Dr. Capello came to Saratoga Hospital in 2007 as the Capital Region's first physician to be fellowship-trained in robot-assisted urologic surgery. Since then, he has performed about 800 robot-assisted surgeries for prostate cancer.

“From a surgical and oncology standpoint, we provide care, expertise, and a spectrum of services that are at least as good as the major medical centers,” Dr. Capello says. “Then, you add the professional and interpersonal connections, the sense of community and belonging, and the shared commitment to our patients—that”s what separates us. That's what makes this place special.”

Technology, Expertise, and Compassion Near the Comforts of Home

From state-of-the-art screening and diagnostic tools to high-tech minimally invasive procedures to immunotherapy, Saratoga Hospital offers a level of cancer care and expertise typically associated with large medical centers. And because our cancer providers live in the community, we offer something more: a personal connection during an otherwise stressful, and often frightening, time. 

Our cancer physicians completed their training at some of the nation's most prestigious medical schools they came to Saratoga to practice in a community where they could make their homes, raise their families, and deliver the type of care they want—and expect— for their loved ones. 

Radioactive microspheres

One of our newest, most sophisticated procedures uses microscopic beads—one-third the width of a human hair—to deliver precise, lethal doses of radiation directly to tumors in the liver (see cover illustration). Interventional oncologists inject millions of these microspheres into the hepatic artery, which supplies the blood to the liver tumors. The spheres become lodged in the tissue surrounding the tumors and emit radiation directly to them. Because the radiation is highly localized and highly targeted, surrounding healthy liver tissue is not harmed. The procedure only requires one needle stick in the groin or wrist and is performed under conscious sedation in a catheterization lab.  Because the procedure does not require general anesthesia, most patients go home the same day and are able to resume normal activities in a few days.  The procedure has been life-changing for patients with end-stage liver cancer and metastatic liver disease because it improves both survival and quality of life. The treatment is low risk and has minimal side effects. In some cases, it can be curative or make tumors shrink enough to make the patient eligible for a resection or liver transplant

Tumor ablation

Our interventional oncologists perform three types of minimally invasive ablation procedures to shrink and destroy cancerous tumors. Cryoablation involves inserting a thin needle directly in the tumor and delivering freezing gas. Radiofrequency ablation uses an insulated needle to deliver electrical current to destroy inoperable tumors, and microwave ablation does the same with electromagnetic waves. In each case, the interventional oncologist makes a single, small incision and relies on medical imaging to guide the small needle to the tumor.  These cases can sometimes require general anesthesia and a limited 23-hour hospital stay, but some patients can go home sooner. 


A type of biological therapy, immunotherapy uses your body”s immune system to fight cancer. Some immunotherapies mark cancer cells so it”s easier for your immune system to find and destroy them. Other therapies boost your immune system to help it fight cancer. “Immunotherapy has dramatically improved the prognosis for multiple cancers,” says John Delmonte Jr., MD, Medical Director of Hematology/Oncology at Saratoga Hospital. “Because these therapies tend to be well-tolerated and highly effective, we are using them more often as the initial line of treatment.

EBUS and navigational bronchoscopy

New technologies have dramatically improved our ability to find and biopsy small cancerous lesions in the lungs. With endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS), our pulmonologists can use a thin, flexible bronchoscope to obtain real-time images inside the lung—and take tissue samples from previously hard-to-reach places. Navigational software enables our physicians to use 3-D CT scans to create virtual maps of the lungs, mark suspicious spots, trace routes to the lesions, and perform biopsies even in narrow, distant airways, where tumors are most likely to occur.

3-D mammography

All mammograms done at Saratoga Hospital facilities use the latest 3-D technology because it produces clearer, more detailed images. We can detect cancer earlier and avoid false alarms—and the resulting unnecessary, often stressful follow-up testing. This technology is especially helpful for women with dense breasts. If your insurance company does not cover 3-D mammography, let us know. We will cover the difference to make sure you benefit from the advantages of this technology.

Hidden-scar breast surgery

Our designated breast surgeon, Patricia Rae Kennedy, MD, FACS, was the first in Northeastern New York to be certified in hidden-scar breast surgery. During this innovative procedure, the surgeon removes cancerous tissue through a single, small cut in a place where scarring is less visible. The nipple, areola, and surrounding tissue remain intact, leaving a more natural-looking breast—and sparing the patient from the scarring that can be a devastating reminder of her cancer diagnosis.

Tumor board conferences

Our multidisciplinary cancer team meets regularly to discuss current cases, treatment options, and patients” progress. Conferences are held every other week for all but breast cancers; those are reviewed at separate sessions, on the off weeks. Attendees include radiation, surgical, medical, and interventional oncologists; pathologists; nurse navigators; primary care physicians; Radiation Oncology Center staff and nurses; nutritionists; and social workers. Other physicians, such as plastic surgeons, gynecologists, pulmonologists, and urologists, may also attend, depending on the cases being discussed.

Albany Med affiliation

The recent affiliation with Albany Med strengthens Saratoga Hospital's cancer profile, enhances access to clinical trials, and provides a direct link to the Capital Region's only pediatric cancer center. The affiliation also enables us to continue to attract highly qualified physicians from some of the top U.S. cancer programs.

Robot-assisted surgery

Saratoga Hospital has long been a leader in offering nerve-sparing, robot-assisted surgery for prostate cancer. In recent years, the Hospital has added robot-assisted surgery for colorectal cancer. The robotic platform allows physicians to manipulate robotic arms and wrists with extraordinary precision. The system offers better visibility of structures inside the body and enables physicians to perform surgery through very small incisions. As a result, patients tend to have less blood loss and to recover more quickly.

Exhaustive education & training

All of our cancer physicians have completed highly specialized training. Many attended top U.S. medical colleges and received their clinical training at some of the nation's most respected academic medical centers. Examples include: Albany Medical Center, Boston University Medical Center, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Duke University Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, New York University Hospital, SUNY Upstate Medical Center affiliated hospitals, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Yale New Haven Hospital/Yale University School of Medicine.

Core care providers

At the heart of our cancer services are the nurses, technicians, medical assistants, and other providers who work directly with patients in a variety of capacities. Whether they administer treatments, provide education, help manage symptoms, take vital signs, or assist with insurance forms and other paperwork, these individuals are a source of comfort, assurance, and encouragement. With advances in treatment, many of our patients live with cancer for years. Their experience is enriched by the lasting relationships, and even friendships, they develop with our providers.

Referral relationships

Our cancer physicians are board-certified, highly skilled, and have relationships with the nation”s leading cancer centers, including Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore, and the Yale Cancer Center in New Haven. When our physicians want consults on rare cancers or to connect patients with clinical trials, they can turn to colleagues they know and trust.

Learn more: