Why was I referred to San Juan Oncology...does it mean I have cancer?

No. Patients are referred here for either cancer treatment or treatment of diseases of the blood.  Our physicians are certified in both specialties and are also Internal Medicine specialists trained in the broad spectrum of general diseases.

What is cancer?

The term “cancer” describes more than 100 types of the disease, all of which involve cells dividing and multiplying out of control. Another defining characteristic of cancer is the ability of these uncontrolled cells to migrate through blood and lymph systems from the original site to other parts of the body. This spreading process is called “metastasis”.

Is cancer inherited?

No, but genetic factors can account for higher risks for cancer in some families.  Other factors such as immune system competency, overall health, and lifestyle habits can influence whether an increased risk results in cancer.

Can my cancer be transmitted to my family members?

No.  Cancer is not contagious.

What is chemotherapy?

“Chemotherapy” means treatment using drugs or biologic agents designed to destroy cancer cells and/or stop their ability to spread. Chemotherapy can be used alone, or in conjunction with surgery or radiation. Drugs used for chemo can be given intravenously, with a shot in muscle or other part of the body, or in pill or liquid from.  For some skin cancers, a cream may be used.

What are biologic agents?

Biologic agents are antibodies (proteins that stimulate an immune response) or other molecules that improve immune function and/or interfere with cancer cells’ ability to survive, multiply and spread.  While these agents are often included under the broad label of “chemotherapy”, their mechanisms of action are very different and often produce less side effects and greater cancer-killing power.  Most of our clinical trials involve this new class of agents with or without standard chemotherapy drugs.

Does SJOA perform genetic testing?

Yes. In all cases where genetic information can assist in further analyzing your cancer or designing appropriate treatment, our physicians order appropriate genetic tests.

What questions should I ask my SJOA physician?

In short, any that occur to you. The more you understand about your disease and its treatment, the better partner you become in your own care.  Our physicians encourage and welcome your questions.  In fact, we suggest you come prepared with a list of questions and take careful notes as your doctor responds. Interrupt and ask for clarification any time you don’t understand a word or concept.

We realize that the complexities of the cancer world are new to you and your loved ones. Especially during a first visit, the very natural stress patients arrive with coupled with a seeming abundance of new information can be overwhelming: most patients remember little of what was discussed. Having a friend or family member with you can be extremely helpful…especially if you both take notes to compare later.

Here are a few examples of questions you may want to ask to get you started:

  • What kind of cancer (or blood disorder) do I have?
  • What stage is my cancer and how does stage affect the course of the disease?
  • What are the treatment options for my type of cancer?
  • Will I need more than one kind of treatment (surgery, radiation, chemotherapy)?
  • If I need more than one type of treatment, which would come first?
  • How will I get chemotherapy (through I.V., pill, or liquid)? How often and over what period of time?
  • Is there a clinical trial that might be better than standard treatment for my cancer?
  • If I chose a clinical trial, how would the side effects compare to those of the standard treatment?
  • Will treatment affect my reproductive capability?  Can fertility be preserved?
  • Will I need to have someone accompany me to treatment?
  • What will the treatment regimen I’ve chosen be likely to cost? Will my health insurance cover it?
  • If I’m unable to meet the costs of my treatment is there any financial assistance available?
  • Are there any support groups that I could attend?
  • If I’m in treatment for a prolonged period, will my family and I have to stay in Farmington?  If so, is there an affordable housing option?