As Director of Anesthesiology at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Southwestern Regional Medical Center, Dr. Mark Axness understands the importance of pain control in cancer treatment. “We believe that the control of pain results in an enhanced immunologic profile for the patient,” says Dr. Axness.
Dr. Axness is a board-certified anesthesiologist with a sub-specialty certification in pain management. He earned his medical degree from the University of California Medical School, followed by an internship and residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Axness has practiced anesthesiology for more than 20 years, and joined the Pain Management Department at CTCA at Southwestern in August 2005. In describing his department, Dr. Axness says “This is a physician-driven pain management department. We have three dedicated pain management physicians with sub-specialty board certification, and a supporting staff of registered nurses to assist us.” Dr. Axness and his team of physicians handle all of the perioperative, in-patient and out-patient pain management needs at Southwestern.
According to Dr. Axness, cancer patients who come to Southwestern after having already been treated at other institutions frequently state that their pain had not been adequately controlled or addressed. This may be because the only person available to address their pain management issues was their medical oncologist. At Southwestern, patients have direct access to a physician who specializes in pain management, and who strives to aggressively treat their pain. “Having dedicated pain management physicians facilitates appropriate and rapid management of patients’ pain,” says Dr. Axness.
When new patients arrive at Southwestern, Dr. Axness and his team perform an extensive pre-treatment history and physical exam, including appropriate lab and radiology studies. Shortly after, they will develop the best treatment plan for the patient’s discomfort. This comprehensive plan may include both medication therapy and non-medication therapy (i.e., physical therapy, acupuncture, auriculotherapy and TENS units when appropriate) for relieving pain. Also, some patients need more sophisticated therapies such as nerve injections, implanted pain pumps or nerve stimulation devices. “We offer a full complement of traditional medical, interventional and allied therapies,” says Dr. Axness.
In addition, Dr. Axness and his team collaborate regularly with other Southwestern departments to provide comprehensive care for patients. “We are totally integrated with the rest of the medical staff, including internal medicine, surgery, medical oncology, radiation therapy and radiology. There is a seamless flow of patient care from one specialty to the next without interruption,” says Dr. Axness.