What to Expect From Your Hospital
Cure or long-term control of cancer is a realistic possibility for
many patients today. To give yourself every opportunity for cure or
control of your illness, you will want to take advantage of all of the
advances made in cancer treatment. State-of-the-art care means that
your hospital has kept up with the latest information and technology
and its staff is aware of the latest advances in cancer research. This
does not necessarily mean that the hospital has the newest buildings
or the highest-priced equipment. It does mean that the hospital has
complete knowledge of all the services that are available to you and
can provide access to the best technology available. For example, if
you need a CT scan (computerized x-ray), and your hospital does not
have this newer type of equipment, it can refer you to a hospital
State-of-the-art care also includes a particular attitude about cancer
care. The most important attitude is hope. About one-half of all newly
diagnosed patients will be cured! Years ago, most people felt
completely hopeless about cancer, and the general attitude was that
cancer meant an automatic death sentence. Cancer today is a chronic
illness, not necessarily a fatal one. It is important that the
hospital staff has an attitude of optimism, hope, and confidence in
its ability to help you get on with your life.
Your hospital should meet several basic standards. It should be
accredited by the JCAHO (Joint Commission for the Accreditation of
Health Care Organizations), with full accreditations by the American
College of Surgeons, and licensure by the Pennsylvania Department of
Health. Your hospital should also have or participate in a Tumor
Registry. This is important because it means the hospital collects
confidential information about cancer that will be used in research to
learn more about the disease and its treatments.
STANDARD AND EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENTS
Hospitals that treat people with cancer are expected to have certain
basic resources or, at least, have access to them. The basic
treatments are surgery, chemotherapy (treatment with chemicals), and
radiation therapy. Naturally, the hospital must have specialists in
each of these areas. These doctors are often board-certified or
board-eligible in surgical oncology, medical oncology (chemotherapy),
or radiation oncology (radiation therapy). A small community hospital
may not have a radiation therapy unit of its own but can refer you to
one, if necessary.
Cancer treatment requires a "multidisciplinary" approach. This means
that more than one doctor will be involved in treatment decisions. For
instance, a medical oncologist, surgical oncologist, radiation
oncologist, and pathologist should review your medical history and
tests and recommend what they consider to be your best treatment
choice. They will then share this recommendation with your doctor, who
should talk it over with you and your loved ones (if you choose) and
help you decide on the best treatment. If you are uncertain, you can
always ask for a second opinion.
If your cancer should metastasize (spread to another part of your
body) while you are on standard treatment, your doctor may make a
recommendation about another form of treatment. You may also want to
consider a second opinion. You should always feel free to ask for a
consultation with another expert in the field. Your own doctor can
suggest whom to see for another opinion and how to arrange it.
Experimental or research treatments are those being tested to see
whether or not they can control cancer better than the standard
treatments. For most cancers, especially those in the early stages,
standard treatments are used. If your cancer has recurred after your
first treatment, you may want to consider an experimental treatment.
(See INVESTIGATIONAL TREATMENTS) The point is that if your hospital and
its staff does not participate in experimental treatments, you should
be referred to such a place, if that is your wish.
Supportive hospital services can enhance and supplement your medical
care. Examples are nursing services, social services, nutritional and
rehabilitation services, and spiritual services. Cancer is a complex
disease, and it is rare that patients need only the services of their
doctors. While medical care is your most important concern, support
services can help with other problems you or your family may face. One
purpose of this guide is to describe all the support services
available to you and tell you where you can find these services. Your
hospital will help you get the support services you need to ensure
that your life can be as normal as possible. If it does not, ask your
doctor to refer you to community agencies that will meet your needs.
PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY
Cancer-care services are confidential, meaning that only you and those
health-care professionals who you are working with directly know about
your condition. Your medical records are also private and
confidential. You will be asked to sign a release-of-information form
if your medical records are to be shared with any other person or
Mindfulness Intervention De-Stresses Cancer Survivors
Jan 20, 2015 - A brief mindfulness-based intervention has a positive short-term effect on psychological and behavioral measures as well as proinflammatory signal markers in younger breast cancer survivors, according to a study published online Dec. 23 in Cancer.
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