The treatment and prevention of cancer and blood disorders is complex and requires many different areas of special care, which is why Highlands Oncology Group is dedicated to providing the highest quality of innovative care, delivered with compassion and precision.
Highlands was founded in 1996 by Drs. Thaddeus Beck, Daniel Bradford and Malcolm Hayward — visionary doctors who wanted to develop a center of excellence built on specialized care in medical oncology and hematology. Three years later, they saw the need for various specialists to collaborate and treat cancers of the chest and lung, and Highlands started the very first community-based, multidisciplinary chest cancer clinic in the United States. Today, it is the only comprehensive cancer center in the region that features all of its physicians — from diagnosis to treatment — in the same building.
“Highlands provides a team approach,” says CEO Jeff Hunnicutt. “It takes many specialists to achieve the best care and outcomes for the cancer patient. Since our doctors are all under one roof, we can provide seamless treatment without delay. When seeing a specialist at Highlands, many times the patient is able to see all their treating doctors on the same day. This speeds up the treatment process, and lowers the patient’s stress level, all leading to better outcomes.”
The surgeons at Highlands are highly decorated in the field, each of whom makes up a team that includes the only fellowship-trained colon and rectal surgeons in Northwest Arkansas. To that end, Drs. Hollis Rogers and Irlna Tantchou specialize in both cancerous and non-cancerous diseases of the colon, rectum, anus and small bowel. Elsewhere, gynecologic oncologist Dr. Joseph Ivy has performed more than 5,500 minimally invasive surgeries during his storied career, as well as more than 1,600 robotic hysterectomies during his time at Highlands, and he is credited for 92 percent of the robotic hysterectomy cancer surgeries in Northwest Arkansas from 2017 to 2019. Additionally, fellow surgeon Dr. Mark “Willy” Pickhardt is a urologist devoted to oncology surgery. He was trained at the leading cancer center in North America and proudly offers the most precise evaluation of prostate cancer with the only UroNav system in the region.
“We believe when you need surgery, you want to get through it so that you can get back to your life,” Ivy says. “We want that for you, too. By using a minimally invasive approach, our surgeons can provide better outcomes for our patients. These patients experience fewer complications compared to patients who have open procedures.”
A group with a variety of specialties, Highlands offers patients more than just one doctor. Designed to provide the best care in the most compassionate manner, Highlands pairs patients with a multidisciplinary team.
“Our practice has specialists in many areas, such as medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, supporting care physicians, advanced practice nurses and registered nurses,” Hunnicutt says. “We offer on-site pharmacies, clinical trials, genetic testing and counseling, free screening programs, multi-disciplinary teams, financial assistance and spiritual care.”
As its surgical team’s motto states, the professionals at Highlands Oncology Group are dedicated to being with their patients every step of the way, because “cancer does not wait, and neither should you.”