As a new patient at Grand Valley Oncology, we want you to feel comfortable, cared for and informed. We know being told you have cancer is a stressful and confusing time. It is like walking the labyrinth. We are here to guide you in this journey every step of the way.
Your first appointment will be comprehensive, so you should plan to spend an hour or more with us. Please arrive 20 minutes before your appointment to complete a few forms. Your appointment might include the following:
It is important that we have an accurate medical history and understand any previous care you have received so we can provide you with the most appropriate and effective cancer care. Please bring the following items to your first appointment:
Cancer is not one disease, but a general term covering many distinct diseases. Each type of cancer has patterns that may differ from other types of cancer, and the same type often affects one person differently from another.
The main types of cancers are: carcinoma, sarcoma, lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma.
Cancer cells develop because of damage to DNA, a substance in every cell that directs all activity of the cell. Usually when DNA becomes damaged, the body is able to repair it; however, sometimes it is not repaired and the cell becomes abnormal. Scientists are working to better understand what causes DNA to become damaged. Some people inherit damaged DNA, which accounts for inherited cancers. More often, though, a person's DNA becomes damaged by environmental factors or individual behaviors such as smoking.
Symptoms of cancer may vary. The following list includes signs of cancer of unknown primary:
Staging is the process of determining how far the cancer has spread. It is important to know the stage of the cancer before determining which treatment options are best. Most often, physicians use the TNM system for staging. This system gives three key pieces of information:
Because there are so many variables, different types of treatments may be required and no one treatment is right for everyone. That's why our physicians at Grand Valley Oncology customize a treatment plan to meet each patient's specific diagnosis, needs and condition.
Standard types of treatment for cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy. These treatments may be used alone, but often combined to maximize the patients’ long-term survival. Surgery and radiation therapy are considered local treatments, as they target the cancer cells in the tumor and near it. Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy are systemic treatments, meaning they travel through the bloodstream reaching cancer cells all over the body. Patients should work closely with their Oncologist to determine the best individualized treatment options.
Today, there is no cure. Tremendous scientific advances have significantly extended patient survival rates, and many patients today will never have recurrence of their disease. However, even after successful treatment, there may remain cancerous or precancerous cells in the body. Cancer patients must maintain a high level of vigilance for the rest of their life, as the risk still remains.
The number of people with a history of cancer in the United States has increased dramatically, from 3 million in 1971 to about 13.7 million today. About 64% of today's cancer survivors were diagnosed with cancer five or more years ago. And, approximately 15% of all cancer survivors were diagnosed 20 or more years ago.
Source: National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Survivorship
Community-based cancer care integrates all aspects of outpatient cancer care, from laboratory and diagnostic imaging capabilities, to chemotherapy and radiation therapy in treatment centers located within patients’ communities. It is based on the concept that providing convenient, high-quality care closer to patients and their support networks aids the maintenance of quality of life and improves patient adherence to therapy, a crucial element in the treatment process.
Our patient benefit representative are available to meet with you to discuss your medical insurance coverage, what it will cover and what it will not cover, your out-of-pocket expenses and your co-pay expenses. We will verify your coverage and pre-authorize services performed in our office, as required by your insurance company. The patient benefit representatives will assist you in understanding your medical insurance coverage and your financial responsibilities for any uncovered expenses.