“When patients find their way to University of Chicago Medicine, they are coming to us for our expertise,” says Dr. Diane Yamada, UChicago Medicine’s Joseph Bolivar DeLee Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Chief of the Section of Gynecologic Oncology. “But what they don’t expect is the level of care we will give to them as a whole person. That’s what we strive for every day.”
A gynecologic cancer diagnosis can be physically and emotionally challenging but, at the UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, a patient never has to battle cancer alone. The medical center’s multidisciplinary team is whole-heartedly committed to providing leading-edge, optimal care for patients with ovarian, uterine, cervical, endometrial, vulvar, and vaginal cancers.
“Our depth of experience and breadth in this area is top tier in the Midwest,” Dr. Yamada adds. “We have doctors and researchers who have been doing this for more than 20 years complemented by newly recruited faculty who bring knowledge of the latest surgical and treatment approaches to our program. We also have the largest array of clinical trials—Phases 1, 2, and 3—available to patients with gynecologic cancers.”
But it’s UChicago Medicine’s patient-centered approach using the latest methods of detecting and treating gynecologic cancer in a safe, welcoming environment that differentiates it in the market.
In an effort to give access to care to all, UChicago Medicine has centers in New Lenox, Orland Park, Hyde Park, downtown Chicago’s River East neighborhood, and Schererville in northwest Indiana.
“It’s been very important for us as a medical group to get out into the community and meet our patients where they are,” she adds. “Dealing with a complex cancer diagnosis is hard enough without having to worry about the logistics of seeing your doctor and coordinating treatment at a faraway place.”
Every patient receives a personalized treatment plan when they begin care with UChicago Medicine.
“All of our decision making starts with good review of pathology and expert review of radiology imaging,” Dr. Yamada explains.
“When a patient begins treatment, they know exactly who is managing what, what the timeline will be and what to expect. I talk a lot about our doctors, but our healthcare team is extraordinary—the PAs (physician assistants), nurses, care coordinators—it takes all of us to create a successful outcome. We are in constant communication with each other and with a patient’s individual physicians to ensure this happens.”
When asked if the pandemic slowed UChicago’s strides in women’s health, Dr. Yamada suggested it actually, in some ways, enhanced how their teams deliver treatment.
“COVID-19 forced everyone in medicine to pause and rethink how we were delivering treatment,” she says. “At the top of our priority list was keeping our patients safe. We had to change some of our protocols, use telemedicine in a way we hadn’t before, and be intentional in how we got our patients the medicine they needed.
But we did it, and I’m incredibly proud and impressed at how we were able to pivot and still keep our patients at the center of everything we do.”
Dr. Yamada was recently elected as the 53rd President of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, a pinnacle appointment for those in her field. This role blends her passions for moving forward optimal patient care and in-depth research.
“It’s very exciting to be able to tackle some of the big issues facing medicine today—how we educate, how we effectively raise research dollars, how we address the disparity in care and reach the underserved,” she says. “We have an incredibly special group of patients with very unique needs. I feel very lucky to be a part of a team who is dedicated to finding answers and creating hope.”
Dr. S. Diane Yamada is Chief of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UChicago Medicine, uchicagomedicine.org.