Fighting cancer is not a challenge you should face alone. When you or a loved one is touched by cancer, the journey may be easier when you know what to expect and who may be walking beside you.
DiagnosisReceiving a diagnosis is the first step in the cancer journey, and the foundation for consecutive steps. The care team at Samaritan will guide you through the necessary imaging
tests (X-rays and scans) and biopsies to identify the specifics of the cancer. Genetic testing may be offered, either of the tumor or a full genetic profile. Having the cancer diagnosis further evaluated at a cancer conference, either tumor board or breast conference, may be requested.
Treatment expectationsYour oncologist will talk with you about goals, expected outcomes of treatment and the different options. Questions such as: Is my cancer curative (cancer-free), in remission (cancer is stable and hasn’t progressed) or in need of palliative care (providing relief from symptoms to improve quality of life), will be covered. Many cancers that aren’t technically cured can be controlled for extended periods of time, like other chronic conditions.
Types of treatmentYour care team at Samaritan Cancer Program will develop a treatment plan specific to your needs. It may include some, but maybe not all, of these treatment options:
Medical treatment: There are several types of drugs used to treat cancer. This could include chemotherapy — available in pill-form or infused through a vein (IV). These drugs work to kill the cancer cells. Other types of IV, pills or injected treatment include immunotherapy, which uses your immune system to kill cancer cells or hormonal therapy, which can alter hormone levels when certain hormones in your body are like “food” for the cancer cells.
Radiation: Radiation therapy helps to slow or kill the cancer.
Surgery: Removal of the cancer tumor or tissue that may become cancerous — this may be done before or after other treatment.
Clinical trials: May include new drugs, combination of current treatment compared to newer treatment, ways to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and even studies to prevent reoccurrence — all which Samaritan Cancer Program can offer, close to home.
Supportive careCancer affects more than your body. Your emotions, finances and time may also go through changes. Don’t forget that your loved ones may need help too.
Social workers: Help you understand and cope with your diagnosis and treatment, manage stress and connect you with resources in the community. They can also help you navigate insurance and apply for financial assistance.
Dietitians: Educate and advise about foods to eat during treatment and ways diet can help with the side effects.
Cancer Resource Center: Available for cancer patients and their families to find trusted medical information and positive ways to connect with others.
Nurse navigators: Involved in your care through every phase, helping arrange consults with physicians and work closely with other members of your care team. Currently, Samaritan’s navigator programs are in breast cancer and head, neck and esophageal cancers.
The moment you were diagnosed with cancer, you became a cancer survivor. But your health care needs may be different for the rest of your life. Your survivorship care plan summarizes what treatments you’ve received and outlines regular follow-up care for the future.
Find out more about the Samaritan Cancer Program at samhealth.org/Cancer.