Medical Oncology: Diagnosis & Treatment Planning
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Getting the Proper Diagnosis to Determine the Most Appropriate Treatment
As a patient at CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center, your medical oncologist will thoroughly evaluate you and determine which diagnostic imaging and lab tests you need to undergo.
“We do all of the studies first to understand what type of cancer we're dealing with, and second, to determine what stage of cancer it is and whether or not it has spread,” explains Dr. Patricia Thompson. “It gives us a better idea of the best treatment for each patient.”
Dr. Thompson continues, “Based on all of that information, we can decide whether the patient will benefit from surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment—one, the other or all of the above.”
Your medical oncologist will take the time to sit and talk with you in detail about your diagnosis, and help you understand your treatment options. Together, you’ll decide on your course of treatment.
Finding the Most Individualized Treatment for Each Patient
Dr. Dennis Citrin says, “Once a diagnosis is made, we really want to individualize the treatment because no two patients are the same, and no two cancers are the same.”
Advances in testing and treatment help our medical oncologists personalize cancer treatment for each patient.
Dr. Thompson notes, “With genetic testing, we are able to look for tumor markers, or different chemicals that may affect the cancer cells and our ability to kill those cancer cells with chemotherapy drugs. And by studying the efficacy of particular drugs in killing the cancer cells, we can then choose which drug would be best for a particular patient.”
If chemotherapy is an option and you have previously undergone extensive chemotherapy treatment, your medical oncologist may use a test to help determine which chemotherapy drugs may be most likely to eliminate the disease. For this lab test, a tumor sample is removed as a part of a biopsy or other surgery. Then, a series of chemotherapy drugs are tested on the sample to learn which drugs work best.
When you and your medical oncologist develop your cancer treatment plan, the following will also be considered:
- Your treatment goals
- Your preferences
- What (if any) cancer treatments you’ve previously received
- The current state of the cancer (i.e., stage of the disease, location and size of the tumor, whether the disease has spread)
- Coexisting medical conditions you may have
Throughout your treatment, you’ll undergo diagnostic imaging and lab tests which will allow your medical oncologist to follow the progress of your treatment. If the cancer is resisting treatment, or you are not tolerating it, your medical oncologist will modify your treatment regimen or recommend using a different therapy.