Medical Oncology and Hematology Services
Medical oncology and hematology services at the Tammy Walker Cancer Center are provided by Muhammad Ahmed, M.D., Larry Beck, M.D., Jeffrey Geitz, M.D., Peeran D. Sandhu, M.D and Karen Swisher, M.D.
The Hematology and Medical Oncology Department is dedicated to providing excellent medical treatment to patients with hematological and oncological diseases. Our hematological oncologist is board certified and utilizes the latest clinical treatments and research trials for cancer and blood disorders.
Medical oncology provides both inpatient and outpatient services on a daily basis. A dedicated inpatient unit at Salina Regional Health Center serves the specialized needs of hematology oncology patients requiring specialized care in a hospital setting under the supervision of a highly trained chemo certified staff. Most people undergoing cancer treatment do not require hospitalization. Outpatients are seen on the second floor of the Tammy Walker Cancer Center, making the latest chemotherapeutic interventions available in a spacious, calming environment.
What happens before, during and after treatment?
Before you can begin treatment, your doctors must first run tests to determine what type of cancer you have and if it has spread to other parts of the body. Once the diagnosis has been made, you will probably talk with your primary care physician along with several oncology specialists, such as a surgeon, a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist, to discuss your treatment choices. Often, these specialists will work together to help recommend the best treatment for you. In some cases, your cancer will need to be attacked by using more than one type of treatment.
For example, if you have breast cancer, you might have surgery to remove the tumor (by a surgeon), then have radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells in or near your breast (by a radiation oncologist). You also might receive chemotherapy (by a medical oncologist) to destroy any remaining cancer cells that have traveled to other parts of the body.
Consultation With a Medical Oncologist
If you are considering chemotherapy, you must first schedule a visit with a medical oncologist to see if chemotherapy is right for you. During your initial visit, the doctor will evaluate your need for chemotherapy and its likely results. This includes reviewing your current medical problems, past medical history, past surgical history, family history, medications, allergies and lifestyle. The doctor will also perform a physical examination to assess the extent of your disease and judge your general physical condition. After reviewing your medical tests, including CT scans, MR scans and positron emission tomography scans (PET scans), and completing a thorough examination, your medical oncologist will fully discuss with you the potential benefits and risks of chemotherapy and answer your questions.
Once your chemotherapy treatment plan has been prescribed by the Medical Oncologist, the nurses will coordinate your chemotherapy treatment schedule with you, as well as any necessary laboratory or radiology tests that need to be performed on an ongoing basis. Depending on your specific chemotherapy drugs prescribed, the drugs will be mixed prior to your treatment and administered by the oncology trained nurses according to the administration method dictated by the physician. Throughout the chemotherapy administration, the nurses will be monitoring you and your vital signs often. The length of your treatment can vary from several minutes to several hours, again depending on the type of chemotherapy you are receiving.
During your chemotherapy cycle, your medical oncologist and nurse will see you regularly to follow your progress, evaluate whether you are having any side effects, recommend treatments for those side effects (such as medication) and address any concerns you may have. As treatment progresses, your doctor may make changes in the schedule or treatment plan depending on your response or reaction to the therapy. Your medical oncology team may gather on a regular basis with other healthcare professionals to review your case to ensure your treatment is proceeding as planned. During this session, all the members of the team discuss your progress, as well as any concerns.
After treatment is completed, follow up appointments will be scheduled so that your medical oncologist can make sure your recovery is proceeding normally and can continue to monitor your health status. Your medical oncologist may also order additional diagnostic tests. Reports on your treatment can be sent to your other physicians. As time goes on, the frequency of your visits will decrease, but you most likely will always follow up with the medical oncologist on a regular basis. However, you should know that your medical oncology team will always be available should you need to speak to someone about your treatment.
Members of the Medical Oncology Team
A team of highly trained medical professionals will be involved in your care during chemotherapy. This team is led by a medical oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating cancer.
Medical oncologists are the doctors who will oversee your chemotherapy treatments. These physicians work with the other members of the medical oncology team to develop and prescribe your treatment plan and make sure that each treatment is accurately given. Your medical oncologist will also monitor your progress and adjust the treatment as necessary to make sure you get the best care throughout the course of treatment. Medical oncologists help identify and treat any side effects that may occur due to the chemotherapy. They work closely with other physicians, including radiation oncologists and surgeons, and all members of the medical oncology team.
Medical oncologists have completed at least four years of college, four years of medical school, 3 years of residency (specialty) training in medicine and then 2 years of fellowship in medical oncology training. They have extensive training in cancer medicine and the use of chemotherapy to treat disease.
Medical Oncology Nurses
Medical oncology nurses work with medical oncologists to care for you and your family at the time of consultation, while you are receiving treatment and during your follow-up care. They will explain the possible side effects you may experience and will describe how you can manage them. They will assess how you are doing throughout treatment and will help you cope with the changes you are experiencing. They will also provide support and counseling to you and your family.
Medical oncology nurses are licensed registered nurses and many registered nurses in medical oncology have additional accreditation in the specialty of oncology nursing. Advanced practice nurses, including clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners, have completed a Master's degree program.
During your treatment, you may work with a number of other healthcare professionals while undergoing chemotherapy. These specialists ensure that all of your physical, psychological and financial needs are met during your treatment.
Nutritionists, also called dietitians, work with patients to help them maintain proper nutrition during their treatments. They will help you modify your eating plan if the side effects of treatment are affecting your appetite and what you can eat, and can provide recipes, menu suggestions and information on ready-to-use nutritional supplements. They address dietary issues and current developments that may affect cancer treatment outcomes.
Physical therapists use therapeutic exercises to ensure that your body functions properly while you are undergoing treatment. These exercises are used to help manage side effects, alleviate pain and keep you healthy.