Cancer Care Teams
Cancer is a complex disease that requires a complex response.
UVa is a pioneer in the most successful approach to treating cancer - team care that focuses on a specific cancer site and crosses medical disciplines.
In 1995 the Cancer Center began creating these teams - made up of researchers, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists and other professionals - who meet regularly to provide comprehensive care.
Your team of healthcare professionals is knowledgeable about the many aspects of cancer: medical, physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. They are available to you as much or as little as you need. Don't be afraid, embarrassed, or hesitant to ask questions, voice your opinion, or seek the care you feel you deserve.
Cancer Care Teams
You are the most important person on your team. Here are some tips that might help you during your visits:
- Take someone with you to your doctor appointments. They can help you hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write down your questions so you don't forget what to ask the doctor.
- Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are.
Nurses can answer your questions about your care and give you valuable tips and advice. They know about the support services at the hospital and in the community and can give you information and educational materials about your disease and treatment.
Doctors at the University of Virginia Cancer Center provide specialized care in specific cancer disease sites. It is possible that more than one doctor will be caring for you during your treatment, depending on your diagnosis and plan of care. Here are the doctors you may see:
- Surgical Oncologist: if your cancer can be removed through surgery, this specialist will provide expertise on the best way to have your cancer taken out.
- Medical Oncologist: because cancer can spread to other parts of the body, it might be important to you to take medicine that reaches your whole body. These medicines can be given by mouth or through the vein. This specialist will provide expertise on the best medicine for you and will also recommend the best schedule to take these medicines.
- Radiation Oncologist: sometimes radiation is used at the site of the cancer in order to make your overall cancer treatment more effective. This specialist will provide expertise on whether you should receive radiation, and if so, how much and for how long.
- Reconstructive Surgeon: this specialist will provide expertise on reconstructing areas of your body that have to be altered or removed due to cancer treatment.
- Palliative Care Doctor: this specialist can help
you in managing your side effects of treatment (pain, fatigue, etc) and
can also be very helpful during the end of life.
As you move through the diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship processes the patient navigator will help you connect with the network of support and education services at UVA, in the community, and through the American Cancer Society. Feel free to contact our patient navigator, Faith Havran, by calling 434-243-6233.
The University of Virginia has oncology social workers that specialize in cancer. They are a good place to start if you have recently been diagnosed with cancer and are unsure of what to do next. If you need help finding a social worker, talk to your doctor or nurse about a referral or call the Cancer Center's general number (434-924-9333 or 800-223-9173)
A nutritionist can suggest ways to help you get enough calories, vitamins, and protein to help you feel better during treatment. Carole Havrila is the Cancer Center's nutritionist and can be reached by calling 434-243-9627.
Prayer and spiritual counseling can be very important in coping with a serious illness such as cancer. Many people find it useful to get help from clergy or other spiritual leaders. The Cancer Center's chaplain is Gordon Putnam and he can be reached at 434-924-2477.
Educational information for you and your family can make a big difference in learning what to expect as well as providing hope for the future. The University of Virginia has resource rooms and patient educators available. For more information, contact Diane Cole at 434-243-6015.