For Patients

FAQs

What is cancer?

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.

What causes cancer?

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 such as smoking.

Are all tumors cancerous?

No. Some tumors are benign (noncancerous) and do not spread to other parts of the body. Cancerous tumors are called malignant.

How many people have cancer?

More than one million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Almost half of American men and one third of American women will have some type of cancer at some point during their lifetime. While anyone can get cancer at any age, about 77 percent of all cancers are diagnosed in people age of 55 and older, and the rate of occurrence varies by racial and ethnic groups.

Is there a cure for cancer?

Today, a cure may be available depending on the cancer type and its extent. Tremendous 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 must maintain a high level of vigilance for the rest of their life, as the risk still remains. Clearly, this question is best left to a discussion with your oncologist.

What are risk factors for cancer?

Risk factors vary by kind of cancer. A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of getting a disease. Some risk factors can be negated, such as factors in the environment or lifestyle choices, and others, such as age, family history and race, cannot.

What are the different types of cancer?

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.

What are the signs and symptoms of cancer?

The signs and symptoms vary depending on the specific kind 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 sign and symptoms, anyone experiencing these should consult their physician.

What are treatment options for cancer?

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.

What is remission?

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.

What is staging?

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.

What is the survival rate for cancer?

Survival rates vary by kind of cancer, but 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.

What is community-based cancer care?

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.

What are the benefits of community-based cancer care?

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

I am an NYOH patient – who do I call if I have an emergency?

We recognize that medical emergency situations related to your disease or your treatment could occur, and we will respond to your call and questions as quickly as possible.  If you experience a life threatening medical emergency when our office is closed, please go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.

For non-life threatening medical situations you may call your physician's office.  If your physician's office is closed, the answering service will promptly forward your message to the doctor on call.  If you experience a non-life threatening medical situation while your physician's office is open, please call as early in the day as possible. Please note that we can not refill prescription medications on the weekends.

What will my medical insurance cover?

Our patient benefit representative are available to meet with you to discuss your medical insurance coverage, what it will cover and what it will not cover, your out-of-pocket expenses and your co-pay expenses.  We will verify your coverage and pre-authorize services performed in our office, as required by your insurance company.  The patient benefit representatives will assist you in understanding your medical insurance coverage and your financial responsibilities for any uncovered expenses.

How do I make an appointment?

To schedule an appointment with New York Oncology Hematology, please call the office that your primary physician referred you to, or the physician office you have chosen.  Our new patient coordinators will arrange for your first appointment and guide you through the process of preparing for your first visit.

Do you have wheelchair accessibility?

Yes, all of our locations are wheelchair accessible – and we have wheelchairs available for patients that may need assistance while in our clinics. We also offer free parking and front door drop-off at all of our locations.

What is The US Oncology Network?

The US Oncology Network is one of the nation’s largest cancer treatment and research networks. US Oncology provides extensive services and support to its affiliated cancer care sites nationwide to help them expand their offering of the most advanced treatments and technologies, build integrated community-based cancer care centers, improve their therapeutic drug management programs and participate in many of the new cancer-related clinical research studies. US Oncology is affiliated with 1,029 physicians operating in 411 locations, including 91 radiation oncology facilities in 35 states.

What support and services does US Oncology provide to NYOH?

NYOH is a private practice, owned by the local physicians who care for our patients. By choosing to affiliate with The US Oncology Network, we have access to world class research, clinical support and resources. This includes one of the largest cancer research networks, bringing emerging drug trials to our patients through clinical research. Their extensive network of more than 1,000 physicians and 2,500 nurses allows us to regularly interact with many leading cancer experts to share best practices and new information.

The US Oncology Network’s reimbursement expertise also ensures our patients obtain maximum coverage from their medical insurance plan to help reduce the financial burden of treatment. Finally, by pooling resources, across practices, The US Oncology Network offers NYOH cost sharing opportunities in many business functions including billing, patient data management and accounting.