The University Hospital “Policlinico Paolo Giaccone” in Palermo, Italy, was founded in 1943. The Medical Oncology Unit started its activities in 2000. It is directed by Prof. Antonio Russo. The activities of the Medical Oncology Unit have recently been fully integrated with those carried out in the other units of the same hospital. Cancer care is developed in three main areas including innovative treatment, cutting edge research and up-to-date teaching. Palliative care has been offered to cancer patients through the collaboration of oncologists and anaesthesiologists.
The centre includes 12 departments and 600 inpatients beds. The Medical Oncology/Hematology Unit has 18 inpatients beds, 21 outpatient places with about 12,000 outpatient attendances each year.
The Oncology and Palliative Care Unit staff includes a Head, seven Medical Oncologists, three Palliative Care Physicians, two Psychologists, four Biologists, three Laboratory Technicians, 20 Residents, 14 Professional Nurses, one Data Manager.
Chemotherapy delivery in the Medical Oncology Unit is equipped with all facilities needed for safety and chemotherapy preparation is centralized. Four levels of control are programmed: the oncologist prescribes chemotherapy by electronic request; another oncologist verifies the prescription and send it to the centralised pharmacy; the pharmacist verifies the adequacy of the prescription, dosage and adequacy according to international guidelines. The nurses verify if assignation to the patient is correct and deliver it.
Technical equipment available in the Radiology department include two CT scans, two MRIs, three mammographs, together with other standard imaging devices such as X-ray and ultrasound, and one mammotome.
Areas of specialisation
The University Hospital of Palermo includes a wide range of specialities which are integrated by the multidisciplinary tumour board. The specialities present in this centre are: Medical Oncology, Haematology, Emergency Care, Internal Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Neurology, Pneumology, Psychiatry, Hepatogastroenterology, Urology, Gynaecology, Orthopaedics, Stomatology, General Surgery, Oncologic Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Neuro-surgery, Cardio-surgery.
The Medical Oncology Unit coordinates the activities of the various wards and the specialists working within them relative to cancer management. The tumours treated in Medical Oncology Unit are grouped as follows: Breast Tumours, Gastrointestinal Tumors, Thoracic Tumors, Genito-urinary Tumors, Skin Tumors, Gynaecologic Tumours, Head and Neck Tumours, Central Nervous System Tumours, Rare Tumours.
These activities are also supported by the work of psychologists, physical therapists and social workers.
Palliative and supportive care
Supportive care and Palliative Care are carried out by the collaboration of oncologists and anaesthesiologists. The Palliative Care Department provides outpatient and inpatient visits. For those patients who need palliative care the oncology department is fully integrated with palliative care services within the same hospital. For outpatients evaluated in the oncology department, who need cancer pain management, they are referred to palliative care physicians. For inpatients who need end-of-life palliative care they are referred to the palliative care unit for long term management. These activities are also integrated with home palliative care by community services.