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updated: 8/29/2014 12:21 PM

Northwestern Medicine Expands Cancer Care in Lake County

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Submitted by Northwestern Medicine

Northwestern Medicine has expanded cancer care in Lake County with the addition of medical hematology oncologists Neal Christiansen, MD, and Valerie Nelson, MD, MBA, who will see patients and provide oncology services at Lake Forest Hospital and the Grayslake Cancer Center as part of Northwestern Medical Group.

Christiansen and Nelson are part of a team of surgical and radiation oncologists, nurses trained and certified in cancer care, physical therapists, nutritionists and social workers who together provide complete treatment for cancer patients at Lake Forest Hospital and the Grayslake Cancer Center.

As members of Northwestern Medical Group, Christiansen and Nelson will further integrate the cancer care available in Lake Forest and Grayslake with the advanced oncology team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

"Our new medical oncologists are integrated with the full Northwestern oncology team to provide our patients from Lake County access to the most advanced, high-quality cancer care, as well as access to clinical trials," said Michael G. Ankin, MD, FACP, FCCP, a pulmonologist at Lake Forest Hospital and the hospital's vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer.

"This integrated approach ensures that every effort is being made to eradicate the cancer or slow the disease's progression to improve survival rates and the quality of life for our cancer patients."

Neal Christiansen, MD, joins Northwestern from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where he was on the medical staff and served as fellowship director and Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology.

He received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and completed an internship and residency at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago. He also completed a fellowship in the Division of Medical Oncology from the University of Minnesota Hospital and Clinic in Minneapolis.

Over his 30-year career, Christiansen has held several faculty appointments and served on hospital committees at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York; the University of Tennessee in Memphis, Tennessee; and the Medical University of South Carolina, among others.

He has served as principal investigator for 15 clinical trials over the last two decades and has published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and abstracts on cancer and bone marrow transplantation for health journals. Christiansen is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and is a past president of the South Carolina Oncology Society.

Valerie Nelson, MD, MBA, holds a medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She completed a fellowship in hematology/oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where she served as chief fellow.

She completed a residency in internal medicine from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where she received the residency teaching award. Nelson also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a certificate in health administration and policy from the University of Chicago Graduate Program.

Nelson's clinical focus is hematology/oncology and the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and disorders of the blood system.

For more information about cancer care at Lake Forest Hospital and the Grayslake Cancer Center, visit