Cancer Committee

The Cancer Committee at Southern New Hampshire Health is dedicated to providing comprehensive cancer care. Committee members represent diverse medical and surgical disciplines, including:
  • Oncology
  • Surgery
  • Pathology
  • Radiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Urology
  • Obstetrics/Gynecology
  • Nursing
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Audiology Therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Nutrition
Community education, quality and safety, and community partnerships also have an important place at the table.

2017 Cancer Committee Report to the Community

Cancer Committee

The Cancer Committee at Southern New Hampshire Health is dedicated to providing comprehensive cancer care. Committee members meet quarterly and represent diverse medical and surgical disciplines, including: oncology, surgery, pathology, radiology, nursing, physical and occupational therapy, nutrition, and more. Community education, quality and safety, and community partnerships also have an important place at the table. 

Our Affiliation with Massachusetts General Hospital

Our affiliation with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) assures our patients quick access to highly skilled specialists, the newest clinical trials, and shared test and treatment options. Learn more about our MGH affiliation.  

Psychosocial Distress Screening 

All patients with cancer are screened for distress a minimum of one time at a pivotal medical visit using a self-administered tool developed by the cancer center. Psychosocial distress is monitored throughout the patient’s course of treatment in order to achieve the best overall outcome. In an effort to address distress across the continuum of care, an additional distress tool is also administered to patients at their survivorship visit. 
There is a level of expectation of typical distress associated with a new cancer diagnosis. However, patients who score higher on the scale are assessed for suicidality and referred to the appropriate resource when necessary. All other patients typically will meet with the social worker to address their needs on an ongoing basis. Common resource examples are copay assistance agencies, organizations that provide grants for daily living expenses, transportation, insurance, family resources, counseling, caregiver stress, advance directives and simply how to manage life with cancer. 

Improve Access for Head and Neck Cancer Patients Referral to Speech Services

In 2016, a multi-disciplinary team met to discuss strategies to ensure that each Head/Neck Oncology patient’s team of providers were effectively communicating to optimize care. Head and Neck Cancer patients are cared for via a multi-disciplinary approach by Medical Oncologists, Radiation Oncologists, Registered Dieticians and Speech Pathologists.  The integrated communication by these Specialists ensures that the patient has the right treatment at the right time and that care is coordinated throughout the course of the care plan. In 2017 we saw 12 new Head/Neck patients.
More about speech services here

Fast Breast MRI for Intermediate Risk Women and Women with Dense Breasts

Screening breast MRI is a highly sensitive, cost-effective technique for screening women at high-risk for developing breast cancer. As we anticipate breast density legislation in New Hampshire and consider the implications of mandatory breast density reporting to patients and physicians, we compared adjunct screening techniques for women with dense breasts and for those women at intermediate risk for developing breast cancer.
Current research and initial reports in clinical practice support the use of an abbreviated breast MRI protocol (Fast Breast MRI) that decreases scan time with a similarly high level of cancer detection. Fast Breast MRI is designed to detect invasive breast cancer, not the full spectrum of diseases that can be diagnosed using a full breast MRI protocol.
Women now benefit from improved access to MRI at a lower cost and SNHHS is the first health system in the state to offer this service. 

A Path to Comfort through Reiki   

Reiki is an ancient healing art that uses a very gentle touch on select “energy centers” of your body, generally your head, shoulders, back and feet. Many people find that the practice gives them a feeling of comfort, calm, and relaxation. This may help to enhance the body’s own self-healing ability and promote wellness. Reiki practitioners at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center have all been trained by a certified Reiki master. Treatments are added to the patient’s medical records. 

Advanced Directives

An Advance directive is a directive allowing a person to give directions about future medical care or to designate another person to make medical decisions if he or she should lose the capacity to make health care decisions. “Advance directives” includes living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care. In 2017 a process improvement plan was put in place to help increase the number of patients with advance directives in their medical records. Some of these improvements included staff education, AD added to our Distress Screening Tool and connecting patients with social workers to complete paperwork. We also hosted two community events where a panel of experts (including medical, legal & spiritual) educated residents about what an AD is, why it’s important and how to fill out paperwork. We had a total of 25 people attend these free presentations.  We will continue these efforts, will monitor progress quarterly, and make adjustments as appropriate with the goal of allowing patients the opportunity to make their end of life wishes known.

Clinical Trials

The Health System offers patients access to the very latest in clinical trials, while giving physicians and researchers the opportunity to study the effectiveness of possible new treatment options.  
In 2017, the Foundation Hematology /Oncology practice and the Cancer Center had patients enrolled in four clinical trials. Eleven patients participated in active clinical trials specifically for breast cancer research. 

Imaging Timeliness of Care:  Time Between Screening Mammogram and Diagnostic Mammogram

The deNicola Breast Center is a proud member of the National Quality Measures for Breast Centers (NQMBC), a quality initiative of the National Consortium of Breast Centers.  The Breast Center inputs and tracks quality measures to ensure and improve high quality care for our patients.  The deNicola Breast Center understands the importance of scheduling appointments when a patient is called back for additional images from their screening mammograms.  We are proud of improving our quality measure for time between screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms due to the strong tracking team and flexibility of scheduling to prioritize based on the patient’s need.

Lung Cancer Screening Program 

Southern New Hampshire Medical Center is designated as a Lung Cancer Screening Center by the American College of Radiology (ACR). In 2017, we performed 225 lung cancer screenings.  Fifty-six percent (127 patients) of these were current cigarette smokers.  193 were negative with annual screenings recommended provided criteria continue to be met.  18 were recommended for 3 month follow-up studies and 14 had suspicious findings where additional imaging or biopsy was recommended.  Our confirmed positives findings: 1 Multiple metastatic disease, 1 small cell carcinoma, 1 non-small cell carcinoma, 1 Aspergilloma. Since we started the program in April 2015, we have performed 496 lung cancer screenings. 

For more information on the Lung Cancer Screening Program, talk to your doctor or visit

Community Outreach 

Our community outreach and education programs continue to receive high marks from its participants. Every Monday in October we participated in ‘Pink Mondays’ to raise awareness among staff and patients about breast cancer and we are active sponsors of the American Cancer Society’s local events. deNicola Breast Health Center was represented at the annual Women Inspiring Women event where members of our surgical team helped educate attendees about signs of breast cancer.
We offered a Lung Cancer Screening Presentation to our 55+ community and partnered with the Nashua Senior Center to educate the seniors about colorectal screenings. We were also featured on WMUR/ABC Channel 9 to talk about breast health and promote our deNicola 30th Anniversary Celebration.

In addition, our annual Skin Cancer Screenings helped to identify individuals who otherwise would not have been diagnosed or treated for their cancers. A total of 53 individuals were screened at 3 different locations, with 18 requiring follow-up care. To learn more about our community education classes and screenings, visit

Quality Improvement Project: Improving Palliative Care Consults

Palliative care treats symptoms and relieves suffering for anyone with a serious illness. In 2017, the Cancer Committee made efforts to identify patients and families with palliative care needs early on and facilitated timely referral to improve their quality of life. Rack cards were placed in outpatient office settings and here are the results from 2016-2017:


Collaboration with the Radiation Center of Greater Nashua

Our collaboration with the Radiation Center ensures timely access to skilled providers in the field of Radiation Oncology, state of the art Elekta linear accelerators with on-board CT imaging and a GE large bore multi-slice CT simulator. The Radiation Center of Greater Nashua provides local access to care with easy, on-site free parking affording minimal travel time and more time for you to enjoy your day! 

The Radiation Center, an ASTRO (American Society for Radiatio Oncology) accredited facility, has served the Nashua community and surrounding towns since 1992.  The Radiation Center is the first radiation therapy facility in New England to achieve this accreditation, recognizing safety and quality of care. To learn more about the Radiation Center of Greater Nashua:

Social Media
In 2017 we shared thirty-two cancer related posts on our Facebook account. We continue to utilize this platform to reach our community with educational information, screening opportunities, hospital happenings and sharing the latest cancer news. Here are the top posts with the most engagements:  

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To learn more about our community education classes and screenings, visit

Download and Print
2017 Report: 2017 Cancer Committee Report
2016 Report: 2016 Cancer Committee Report
2015 Report: 2015 Cancer Committee Report
2014 Report: 2014 Cancer Committee Report