You’re Not in this Alone

If you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer, you’re likely going through a whirlwind of emotions. We understand that it can be a very difficult time to collect your thoughts and make decisions. As a new patient at Utah Cancer Specialists, we want you to feel comfortable, cared for and informed.

While patients and their families have many decisions to make in a short time, our physicians and support staff are with you every step of this journey – from diagnosis through treatment. We understand cancer treatment is a highly personal journey, uniquely different for each patient.

As a Utah Cancer Specialists patient, we’ll assist you in taking an active role in your care and make treatment decisions that are best for you and your loved ones.

The Journey’s First Steps

Some of the most important decisions you will make are choosing where to seek treatment and what kinds of treatment you will need. These are questions we deal with every day and we have a variety of resources to help you make the choices that are right for you.

Your First Appointment:

  • Meeting with one of our patient advocates to discuss your insurance and billing questions.
  • Meeting and new-patient evaluation with your physician.
  • A thorough discussion about treatment options and planning.

What to Bring:

  • A friend or family member.
  • A list of questions or concerns that you would like to discuss with your doctor.
  • A list of all medications you take and any that you need refilled .(including over-the-counter remedies, vitamins and herbal supplements)
  • Current insurance information.  Make sure to bring this to every appointment and keep us up to date on any changes.

Our commitment goes beyond treatment. Providing care, resources, and support for you and your loved ones during this journey is our priority.

Frequently asked questions about cancer

We know patients have many questions when making decisions about cancer care. Utah Cancer Specialists is here to offer answers, support, help and hope. Our experienced team offers patients a partnership and a roadmap for the most advanced care available in a compassionate and caring environment.

The information below will answer the most commonly asked questions about cancer and the treatment options available. A member of your care team can answer additional questions during appointments.

Cancer is a group of diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control. These cancer cells, which can originate almost anywhere in the body, can invade nearby tissues and can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

Cancer cells develop because of damage to DNA, a substance in every cell that directs all activity of the cell. Usually when DNA becomes damaged, the body is able to repair it; however, sometimes it is not repaired and the cell becomes abnormal. Scientists are working to better understand what causes DNA to become damaged. Some people inherit damaged DNA, which accounts for inherited cancers. More often, though, a person’s DNA becomes damaged by environmental factors or individual behaviors.

Scientific advances have significantly improved patient survival rates and many patients today will never have recurrence of their disease.  However, even after successful treatment, there may remain cancerous or precancerous cells in the body. Cancer patients should maintain a high level of vigilance for the rest of their life as the risk still remains. This question is best left to a discussion with your oncologist.

Survival rates vary by type of cancer. For all cancers diagnosed between 1996 and 2002, the 5-year relative survival rate is 66 percent, up from 51 percent between 1975 and 1977. This increase is largely attributed to earlier detection and new or improved treatments.

The signs and symptoms vary depending on the specific type of cancer, but there are some general signs and symptoms that may indicate a need for testing. These include fatigue, a sore that does not heal, nagging cough, pain, unexplained weight loss, fever and changes on the skin. Although there could be other reasons for these signs and symptoms, anyone experiencing these should consult a physician.

The main types of cancers are: carcinoma, sarcoma, lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma.

  • Carcinomas are the most common types of cancer. They arise from the cells that cover external and internal body surfaces such as the skin, lung, breast and colon.
  • Sarcomas are cancers arising from cells found in the supporting tissues of the body such as bone, cartilage, fat, connective tissue and muscle.
  • Lymphomas are cancers that arise in the lymph nodes and tissues of the body’s immune system.
  • Leukemia is cancer that starts in immature blood cells that grow in the bone marrow and causes abnormal blood cells to accumulate in large numbers in the bloodstream.
  • Myeloma is a cancer that develops in the plasma cells of bone marrow.

Staging is the process of determining how far the cancer has spread. It is important to know the stage of the cancer before determining which treatment options are best. Most often, physicians use the TNM system for staging. This system gives three key pieces of information:

  • T describes the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread to nearby tissue and organs.
  • N describes how far the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • M shows whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other organs of the body.

Remission is a decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms of cancer. In partial remission, some, but not all, signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared. In complete remission, all signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared, although cancer still may be in the body.

Standard types of treatment for cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy. These treatments may be used alone, but often combined to maximize the patients’ long-term survival. Surgery and radiation therapy are considered local treatments, as they target the cancer cells in the tumor and near it. Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and biological therapy are systemic treatments, meaning they travel through the bloodstream reaching cancer cells all over the body. Patients should work closely with their oncologist to determine the best individualized treatment options.

Community-based cancer care integrates all aspects of outpatient cancer care, from laboratory and diagnostic imaging capabilities, to chemotherapy and radiation therapy in treatment centers located within patients’ communities. It is based on the concept that providing convenient, high-quality care closer to patients and their support networks aids the maintenance of quality of life and improves patient adherence to therapy, a crucial element in the treatment process.

The convenience of community-based cancer care enables patients to access the most advanced cancer technologies in one location within their communities. This helps reduce the burden of extensive travel to distant or multiple locations. In addition, an integrated setting facilitates the close coordination of all aspects of a patient’s care. It provides quicker access to appointments and treatments and allows patients to be near their supportive circle of friends and family during their treatment.