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Medical Oncology

medical oncology
"Our patients are empowered and play an integral part in the decision making for their care."

-Dr. Theodore Pollock, Director of Medical Oncology & Vice Chief of Staff

Our department

The Medical Oncology Department at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) specializes in diagnosing cancer and delivering treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy/targeted therapy and hormone therapy personalized to your needs.

Developing your treatment plan

For most of our patients, a medical oncologist serves as their primary doctor. Your initial visit to CTCA will typically last three to five days. During this time, you will meet with a variety of doctors, including your medical oncologist, as well as clinicians from surgery, radiology, nutrition, naturopathic medicine and oncology rehabilitation.

Our medical oncologists work in tandem with these clinicians to provide therapies that minimize the side effects of chemotherapy and other treatments. During your stay, your medical oncologist will review your full diagnosis and medical history, and order additional diagnostic testing and evaluations.

At the end of your diagnostic evaluation, your medical oncologist will present you with a cancer treatment plan personalized to your needs. You and your medical oncologist will discuss the advanced treatment options that are available for your type and stage of cancer, and determine which options may be right for you.

If chemotherapy is part of your treatment plan, your medical oncologist will coordinate your dosage and schedule. You may receive chemotherapy alone, or in combination with other treatment modalities like targeted therapies, surgery and/or radiation therapy.

Throughout your care, your medical oncologist will work closely with you to monitor your chemotherapy regimen to make sure it continues to work for you, and help reduce side effects and toxicity.

An individualized approach

Patient Empowered Care®, our unique model of care at CTCA, brings a dedicated team of cancer experts together on a daily basis. Your medical oncologist will communicate regularly with the rest of your care team throughout your treatment. He or she will monitor the progress of your treatment and help manage side effects like gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue and insomnia, and neuropathy. Your entire care team takes every measure to help you tolerate treatments, stay active and enjoy a good quality of life.

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 plan or recommend using a different therapy.

The medical oncology team at Southwestern

The Department of Medical Oncology at CTCA at Southwestern Regional Medical Center (Southwestern) is comprised of an experienced and compassionate team of cancer professionals.

With our Patient Empowered Care® clinic, you and your caregiver enjoy greater comfort and convenience by meeting with your care team in one room. In the clinic, your medical oncologist, clinic nurse, registered dietitian, naturopathic clinician and nurse care manager come to you, one after another, for a focused, seamless visit.

This means each time you meet with your medical oncologist, the entire team is automatically scheduled to meet with you as well, so you don’t have to worry about scheduling or finding time for additional appointments. You may also meet with clinicians from your extended care team as needed.

An individualized treatment plan

The medical oncologists at Southwestern are determined to find the most appropriate treatment for each patient. They thoroughly review your medical history and current condition and offer treatment recommendations based your individual needs.

As medical oncologist Dr. Petra Ketterl points out: “What people often don’t realize is that not any one cancer is the same as another. Even for a person with the same type of cancer, the situation may be different.” 

Whether a patient comes in newly diagnosed or for a second opinion, the medical oncology team at Southwestern strives to offer new options for cancer treatment. “We’re used to looking at a patient’s cancer with fresh eyes to see if there’s something else we can do to treat it," says Dr. Ketterl.

“It’s really important to look at all of the details—the patient’s scans, labs, what’s happened before, and more. Then you really have to make an individualized decision based on studies, as well as if and how the patient has been treated previously," she adds.

Improving quality of life

To receive your chemotherapy treatments, you’ll visit the Infusion Center of the hospital. Designed with your needs in mind, our Infusion Center is a calming environment that inspires relaxation. While you are there, a staff of kind, attentive infusion nurses will cater to your needs and make you as comfortable as possible.

Your care team will be as proactive as possible in anticipating and managing side effects so you can better tolerate your treatments and enjoy life. Prior to administering chemotherapy, your infusion nurses may provide pre-medications (prescribed by your medical oncologist) to decrease nausea and make your symptoms more tolerable. Your naturopathic clinician may also provide natural agents to help curb nausea.

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