Tag Archive for: radiation oncologist

Small Cell Lung Cancer Care | Communication As a Key

Small Cell Lung Cancer Care | Communication As a Key from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Dr. Lin is a medical oncologist who helps small cell lung cancer (SCLC) patients as a member of the healthcare team. Dr. Lin explains the urgency of care decisions with extensive stage SCLC and advice to patients and loved ones. “This is where communication between the patient and healthcare team is key to an optimal cancer journey.” She discusses common members of the SCLC healthcare team and advice for staying [ACT]IVATED for the best care.

Disclaimer: Thank you to small cell lung cancer expert Dr. Rafael Santana-Davila, PEN’s Empowerment Leads, patients, and care partners for reviewing and collaborating on this video. This video has been edited to protect the privacy of certain individuals, and the names and identifying details have been changed.

See More from [ACT]IVATED Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

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Lessons From a Small Cell Lung Cancer Care Partner


Transcript:

Staying ACTIVATED in cancer care is essential to becoming informed, empowered, and engaged in patient care, but what does that really look like? As a medical oncologist caring for patients facing a small cell lung cancer (SCLC) diagnosis, how can I best coordinate with my patients and families in the shared decision-making process?

Extensive stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC) is an aggressive cancer, so swift decisions may be necessary. This is where communication between the patient and healthcare team is vital to an optimal cancer journey. Your healthcare team may include a medical oncologist like myself, pulmonologist, radiation oncologist, thoracic surgeon, nurse practitioners, a patient navigator, and many more key players on your journey. 

Given the aggressive nature of this cancer, educating yourself as the patient and patient’s loved ones helps empower involvement in the shared decision-making process for small cell lung cancer treatment and care. Asking lots of questions about benefits and risks of treatment, testing, what to expect for treatment, and support services is an important part of the patient empowerment path. 

Stay [ACT]IVATED with these tips:

  • Ask about the stage of your cancer, treatment options, treatment goals, possible side effects, support services, and what to expect during and after treatment.
  • Inquire about how often you’ll see your pulmonologist as part of your care, whether there are any clinical trial options, or who to contact if you experience any type of lung discomfort or breathing issues.
  • Find out what to expect for your treatment, the frequency, duration, side effects, and whether you might need help going to and from the treatment location.

If you’re helping a loved one in their fight against small cell lung cancer, shared decision-making is critical. Stay [ACT]IVATED by being informed, empowered, and engaged in their care. It can make all the difference.


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Treatment Options for Advanced Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

Treatment Options for Advanced Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Treatment options for advanced non-melanoma skin cancers are ever-changing. Dr. Diwakar Davar reviews current treatment options and discusses which medical professionals are involved in treating advanced non-melanoma skin cancers.

Dr. Diwakar Davar is the Clinical Director of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Learn more about Dr. Davar.

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See More from Evolve Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

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What Are the Potential Benefits of an Advanced Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Clinical Trial?

Emerging Treatments for Advanced Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer: What’s Showing Promise

Emerging Treatments for Advanced Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer: What’s Showing Promise?


Transcript:

Katherine:

What approaches are currently available to treat these more common forms of advanced non-melanoma skin cancer? 

Dr. Davar:

Right now, the most common mode of treatment is typically treating cancer that is localized.  

Again, even with the extremely increasing incidence of these cancers, the vast majority of cancers that we detect are still localized and are amenable to easy surgical eradication by a trained dermatologist or a trained mole surgeon. A trained dermatologist, a trained mole surgeon, a plastic surgeon, these are commonly the physicians that encounter these patients. Surgical removal is still the primary mode of eradications of these lesions. However, increasingly, there is a role for early systemic therapy and local regional therapy to improve patient outcomes for reasons that we can talk about. Still, the vast majority of patients are still treated surgically and then increasingly, there is the role for referral to medical oncologists and radiation oncologists to talk about alternative forms of treatment that may be needed after that. 

Katherine:

What sort of alternative therapies? Are you looking at targeted therapies? Immunotherapies? 

Dr. Davar:

The primary reason for which advances have happened in this disease is really the advent of effective systemic immunotherapy and the spillover of immunotherapy into the patient landscape in these diseases. The reason for that is as follows. Immunotherapy essentially is most effective in tumors that carry a high tumor mutation burden. For example, melanoma has a tumor mutation burden on average of about 15, and the tumor mutation burden in melanoma is driven by the fact that melanoma, cutaneous melanoma is an ultraviolet light-driven skin cancer.  

However, non-melanoma skin cancers have tumor mutation burdens that are many, many magnitudes higher than that of melanoma. For example, the median tumor mutation burden in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is 50. Melanoma is 15. The median tumor mutation burden in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is three times that of melanoma. Similarly, for Merkel cell carcinoma. A large majority of Merkel cell carcinoma is caused by an unusual virus known as a Merkel cell polyomavirus. Both the viral driven tumors and the non-viral driven tumors have high tumor mutation burdens, and the same is true of basal cell carcinoma because of ultraviolet light exposure.  

The primary reason why immunotherapy has gotten a foothold in these diseases is because the underlying etiologic agent that drives carcinogenesis, ultraviolet light for the majority of these, and the Merkel cell polyomavirus for the subcategory of non-melanoma skin cancer that is Merkel are both associated with a response to immunotherapy.   

As a result of that, immunotherapy, anti-PD-1 immunotherapy is now standard of care for patients with tumors that are either locally advanced undissectible or locally advanced and/or metastatic, that is, that they have spread. They are now available for use and FDA-approved for this indication in both Merkel, basal, as well as non-melanoma cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. 

Expert Advice for Newly Diagnosed Gastric Cancer Patients

Expert Advice for Newly Diagnosed Gastric Cancer Patients from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What should newly diagnosed gastric cancer patients know about their care? Expert Dr. Matthew Strickland discusses essential members of the gastric cancer care team.

Dr. Matthew Strickland is a medical oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn more about Dr. Strickland.

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Transcript:

Katherine Banwell:

What advice would you give people who have recently been diagnosed with gastric cancer?   

Dr. Matthew Strickland:

I really appreciate that question.  

Even though I spend all of my day job taking care of patients with these cancers, I’m never really there with them when they get the news. Often, they’re told by their primary care physician or the gastroenterologist that may have done the scope that led to the original diagnosis. I would say it’s the minority of time where I’m breaking the news. I think that there’s a lot of things to say to the patient.  

But one of the most important things I would want patients to know is that there is a whole army of people that are ready to help you if you get this scary news. It certainly doesn’t seem like that at first, and you don’t know who to call. But if you can call your closest cancer center and try to get into what we call a multidisciplinary meeting – what that means is you might see a medical oncologist, a surgeon, perhaps a radiation oncologist.  

The point here is that as soon as you pick up the phone and get that appointment, the machinery is going to start working for you, so we can help you.   

Who Are the Members of a Head and Neck Cancer Care Team?

Who Are the Members of a Head and Neck Cancer Care Team? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Head and neck cancer care may involve a whole team of healthcare providers, but who are they? Expert Dr. Ari Rosenberg discusses the various team members and their roles in patient care.

Dr. Ari Rosenberg is a medical oncologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine. Learn more about Dr. Rosenberg.

See More From The Pro-Active Head and Neck Cancer Patient Toolkit

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Expert Advice for Newly Diagnosed Head and Neck Cancer Patients


Transcript:

Katherine:

There can be a number of people on a head and neck cancer patient’s care team. Would you give us an overview of who these team members might be, and what their roles are? 

Dr. Rosenberg:

Yeah, absolutely. And this is one thing, actually, that I enjoy about treating head and neck cancer which is that because of the complexity of the head and neck in general, cancers that arise really do require a multidisciplinary team to figure out what the best treatment approach is.  

And not only that, but most of the treatment plans that we incorporate for the treatment of head and neck cancer involve a very large and robust support team that provide different perspectives and help in optimizing outcomes for patients.

So, the three types of oncologists in our program, for example, all new patients that come in meet all three of these types of oncologists. So, one is an ENT, or a head and neck oncologist, or a head and neck surgeon, that’s one important member of the team. The second is a radiation oncologist. So, a radiation oncologist is the team member that uses radiation to treat head and neck cancer. And the third is someone like myself, a medical oncologist. We’re the ones that do the chemotherapy, or other types of systemic therapy, or other types of things like that.

And those are really the three tools, and the three oncologists that use those tools to figure out what the best treatment approach is. However, because many of the treatments that we give, whether it’s surgical treatment, or whether it’s some combination of chemotherapy and radiation, or of chemoradiation, there are many side effects of treatment. And as such, there are many other team members that are involved in supporting patients and optimizing outcomes through any of those treatment modalities.  

So, that oftentimes involves specialized nursing, speech and swallow doctors and pathologists, dentistry, and prosthodontics. Sometimes other types of surgeons are involved, like neurosurgeons, or skull-based surgeons, or nasopharynx surgeons as well.  

As well as nutrition and dietician, physical therapy, psychosocial supportive services. I’m probably missing many, but on and on, really are all involved in the care of patients during treatment. And not only that, but even in the non-patient facing side, there are other team members also that are very important that a patient may not meet, such as the pathologists that help us determine the subtype of the cancer, whether it’s HPV related or not. Sometimes some of the genomic makers and things like that that can be very important, or immune markers that are very important for treatment decisions.  

We have radiologists that have expertise in the head and neck space that help us determine exactly the extent of the disease and look at the imaging in a multidisciplinary fashion. Again, I probably missed some of the team members offhand, but yes, it’s definitely a team sport, which is really, really important. 

Sexual Health After a Cancer Diagnosis: An Expert Weighs In

Sexual Health After a Cancer Diagnosis: An Expert Weighs In from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What can ovarian patients do if they have sexual health issues that arise during their patient journey? Expert Dr. Ebony Hoskins explains issues that may come up for some patients and patient advice on how to seek support. 

Dr. Hoskins is a board-certified gynecologic oncologist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and assistant professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University Medical Center. Hoskins sees women for gynecological malignancies, which include the treatment of endometrial, ovarian, vulva, vaginal and cervical cancers.

Download Resource Guide

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See More from [ACT]IVATED Ovarian Cancer

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Transcript:

Mikki:

Dr. Hoskins, can you speak to the sexual health following a cancer diagnosis, and which healthcare team member should patients have a conversation with?

Dr. Ebony Hoskins:

I think this is a great question. I think sexual health is something that goes undiscussed unless we ask it, and I think sometimes it’s uncomfortable for the patient, it’s uncomfortable for the provider. But I do talk to a lot of women that have decreased libido or pain, or there’s a lot of dysfunction sometimes after surgery or chemotherapy, and some of it is related to the actual treatment itself. Physiologic meaning how the body functions after treatment, and some could be the fact that there is shame associated with that, sometimes the cancer is involving a sexual organ in that area, and so I think bringing discussion up to your…whether the provider is a gynecologic oncologist and is the person who did the surgery, or the who person gave the chemo or the radiation oncologist. Also, there are mid-level providers who do survivorship, and it just kind of depends on who’s taking care of you after completion of treatment, butI know there are survivorships, and these are times to bring it up. Bring it up to your provider, number one, and they may have resources to refer you to in terms of getting through these difficult times, because I think ultimately you can get your sexual life back. 


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Tools for Accessing Quality Prostate Cancer Care

Tools for Accessing Quality Prostate Cancer Care from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What factors could impact a prostate cancer patients access to quality, affordable care? This animated video reviews common obstacles and provides tools and resources to help address barriers to care.

Download Resource Guide

See More From Shared Decision Making: Navigating Prostate Cancer Care

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Living With Prostate Cancer

What You Should Know About Clinical Trials

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Prostate Cancer Care Partners: Getting the Support You Need

Prostate Cancer Care Partners: Getting the Support You Need

Transcript: 

Anthony: 

Hi! I’m Anthony, and I’m living with advanced prostate cancer. This is Niki, my nurse.  

Just like prostate cancer doesn’t behave the same way in every patient, each prostate cancer patient has different factors that could impact their access to quality, affordable care. 

Niki: 

Exactly, Anthony. There are obstacles that may affect their potential to manage their cancer.    

These barriers, which are also called health disparities1, are complex and may include things like:  

  • Not having health insurance – or having limited insurance. 
  • Experiencing racism and discrimination. 
  • Language barriers if English is not the language you are most comfortable with2. 
  • Cultural barriers. 
  • Experiencing financial constraints. 
  • A lack of sick time or paid time off in the workplace. 
  • Living in a remote or rural area with limited access to care. 
  • Or, a lack of education or health literacy. 

Anthony: 

And overcoming or addressing these barriers is the goal of health equity.  

Niki: 

Right! EVERYONE should have the access to quality care. And while it isn’t possible to solve these problems overnight, there are resources and support services to help people with prostate cancer. It is important to identify and to discuss your barriers with your healthcare team as they are unique to each individual patient. 

Anthony: 

First and foremost, as we’ve mentioned in prior videos – don’t hesitate to speak up if you feel you are receiving unequal care. You can consider changing doctors if you don’t feel you’re receiving fair treatment, or if you’re not comfortable with your team. 

But the burden to access better care shouldn’t fall on you. Your team is there to help, right, Niki? 

Niki: 

That’s what they are there for! And the best place to start is by reaching out to a nurse navigator or social worker on your team. They may work with you and identify any challenges in your way and offer support resources to guide you in the right direction.  

Anthony: 

Exactly – my social worker helped me find an organization that provided transportation to and from my treatment appointments.  

Niki, are there other services that a nurse navigator or social worker help you connect with? 

Niki: 

Absolutely – let’s walk through some examples: 

  • There are resources that can help with the financial strain of cancer care. Patient assistance programs are in place for people who don’t have health insurance or who are underinsured. They are managed by government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, and advocacy groups; and, in some cases, these programs can help cover the cost of medications or provide them at a discounted rate.
  • Team members who provide emotional support are available to help you such as a social worker, counselor, therapist, or psychologist. 
  • If language is a barrier, translators can be made available to join appointments with you, so you can actively participate in your care discussions and decisions.  And you can ask for materials in the language you are most comfortable with. 
  • And if your job is affecting your ability to get care, many advocacy groups have resources that can support you in advocating for your rights in the workplace. 

Anthony: 

Those are all wonderful support services, Niki. 

I also want to add that if you are having trouble understanding your disease, advocacy groups have excellent materials in patient-friendly language. Download the guide that accompanies this video for a list of recommended organizations. 

Niki: 

That’s right. And, many medical centers have patient advocates available to help you communicate with your team, so you can get the care you need and feel confident in your decisions. Remember, you are not alone! 

We hope this video helped you feel more empowered to ask for resources. Thanks for joining us! 

Anthony: 

And visit powerfulpatients.org/pc to access more videos with Niki and me. 

Prostate Cancer Care Partners: Getting the Support You Need

Prostate Cancer Care Partners: Getting the Support You Need from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

 What do care partners need to know to help care for their loved one AND themselves? This animated video reviews the role of a care partner, discusses steps for supporting a loved one and provides tips for maintaining self-care.

Download Resource Guide

See More From Shared Decision Making: Navigating Prostate Cancer Care

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Transcript: 

Anthony: 

Hi! I’m Anthony, and I am living with advanced prostate cancer. This is my nurse, Niki.  

And this is my wife, Jane. She’s not just my wife, she’s also my care partner. From helping with my appointment schedule to communicating with my healthcare team, she works with me to manage my prostate cancer. 

Jane: 

And many of you may be care partners like me. The goal of this video is to help you understand your role and to gain tools to help you support your loved one in their cancer journey. And that includes prioritizing your own self-care.  

Niki, we’ve talked about some of the things I do to help Anthony, but how would you describe the role of a care partner?  

Niki: 

A care partner is someone who works with their loved one on their care every step of the way – from diagnosis to survivorship.  

It’s important to mention that anyone can play this role – friend, family member, or loved one – whomever you trust with supporting your health.  

Jane: 

And there isn’t a single way be a care partner. You can provide support in a way that feels comfortable and natural to you. 

Niki, what are some of the ways a care partner can help?   

Niki: 

Yes – let’s review a few steps. Care partners can assist by: 

  • Learning about your loved one’s prostate cancer, so you can feel confident in participating in conversations and decisions. You can ask their healthcare team for educational resources. 
  • And participating in doctors’ appointments by taking notes and requesting post-visit summaries so that you can review the information presented. 
  • Next, helping your loved one access and use their patient portal and maintaining schedules and organizing medical records. 
  • Listening to your loved one and assist in weighing the pros and cons of care decisions. 
  • And monitoring your loved one’s emotional health. 

Jane: 

That’s a great point, Niki. Sometimes a care partner will notice that their loved one is feeling low or acting differently before they notice anything themselves. Care partners can help communicate these issues to the healthcare team, and can even reach out to a mental health professional or social worker to help.  

Niki: 

And that leads me to the next important step that many care partners often overlook: Taking care of yourself.  

Anthony: 

Right – and as we experienced firsthand, this is essential. Jane struggled with making time for herself after I was diagnosed, and it negatively impacted her health.  

Jane: 

I was totally drained. But adding time for myself on the calendar and keeping up with my self-care appointments made me feel better. What else can you do? 

  • First, prioritize your health by scheduling and keeping your OWN health care appointment. 
  • Continue doing the activities that you enjoy – there are ways to make time in the schedule, even if it doesn’t seem like it.   
  • Find and use strategies that work for you to manage stress, like exercise, reading a book, or anything you find relaxing. Even a short walk with a friend can have a big impact. 
  • And make a list of tasks you can pass off to friends and family members who offer to help.  

Niki: 

That’s great advice, Jane. I’ll also add that caring for a loved one can be challenging – it’s normal to feel a range of emotions. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talking with someone about how you’re feeling can make a difference. And speaking candidly and openly with other care partners in a support group setting can also provide comfort and peace of mind. 

Just like Anthony sought the advice of a counselor and social worker, it’s important that Jane find that support SHE needs as a care partner. 

Jane: 

We hope this video helped you gain tools and strategies for helping support a loved one – and yourself. 

Anthony: 

Download the guide that goes with this video to review what you learned.  

And visit powerfulpatients.org/pc to access more videos with Niki and me. 

Living With Prostate Cancer

Living With Prostate Cancer from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What follow-up care is important for people with prostate cancer? This animated video discusses support and tools for managing life with prostate cancer.

Download Resource Guide

See More From Shared Decision Making: Navigating Prostate Cancer Care

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Transcript: 

Niki: 

Hi! I’m Niki and I’m a nurse practitioner. And here with me is Anthony, who is living with advanced prostate cancer. 

Anthony: 

Thanks for joining us!  

In this video, we’re going to discuss tools for managing life with prostate cancer.  

Niki:  

Living with prostate cancer means that patients will be monitored for signs that the cancer may be progressing, and assess if it is time to treat the cancer or consider a different treatment plan.   

Anthony:  

But for all patients, an important part of living with prostate cancer is follow-up care. This may include:  

  • Disease monitoring and managing symptoms and side effects, 
  • As well as emotional support. 
  • And, in some cases, creating a survivorship plan with your team.  

Niki:  

Let’s start with disease monitoring: This may include regular exams and testing to keep an eye on your disease progression or recovery. And your individual situation and risk will determine the frequency of your appointments. 

Anthony: 

And for patients like me who have had treatment, managing short and long-term side effects is an essential part of living with prostate cancer.  

One issue that can be challenging for some prostate cancer patients is the impact of treatment on a patient’s sexual function and self-image.  

Niki: 

That’s right, Anthony. It’s important to note that there ARE options that may help manage certain side effects, but you have to talk about them with your healthcare team. While bringing up sexual side effects or bladder control issues to your provider may be difficult, it’s the only way your team can assist you.  

Anthony: 

In my case, I found it easier to communicate my sexual issues in writing, using the patient portal. Plus – don’t forget that care partners can be a resource to help bring up difficult topics. 

Niki: 

Exactly – utilize your resources and communicate in a way that you feel most comfortable! 

And, as we mentioned, there can also be emotional side effects for men living with prostate cancer. Patients may feel stressed about their diagnosis or anxious about their cancer returning or progressing. Working with a health professional like a social worker, counselor, therapist, or psychologist may help reduce anxiety and worry.  

Anthony: 

Right – the other approach that really helped me emotionally was participating in a support group. 

Support groups allow men to meet and interact with others who are living with prostate cancer and provide a platform to share experiences and information. In a support group setting, it may be easier for men to share details that they don’t necessarily want to share with loved ones.  

Niki: 

That’s a great point, Anthony. Studies show that participating in a support group can help cancer patients cope with anxiety and depression 

Anthony: 

It certainly encourages me to know that other men are facing similar challenges. While my support group meets in person, there are online options for people who prefer to connect in a virtual setting.   

Niki: 

But as much as it can be reassuring, the support group format isn’t for everyone. Talk to your social worker or counselor about additional support options to find an approach that feels most comfortable to you.  

Anthony: 

Now that we’ve walked through disease monitoring and resources for emotional support, let’s talk about survivorship. Niki, what is a survivorship care plan?  

Niki: 

Sure. A survivorship care plan organizes your follow-up care. It may include: 

  • Information about the treatment you received. 
  • A follow-up schedule for exams and tests. 
  • A list of potential symptoms and side effects. 
  • And lifestyle recommendations to establish and to maintain healthy habits.  

Your healthcare team, along with a care partner, can help you develop and stick to a plan. 

Anthony: 

That’s great advice, Niki. Now that we have learned some tips for living with prostate cancer, what can you do to participate in your follow-up care?  

Niki: 

  • Make sure to schedule and keep regular visits with your team – including your general practitioner – so that all aspects of your health can be monitored.  
  • Report any new symptoms that you experience – no matter how small. 
  • Next, don’t hesitate to speak up about lingering side effects – including bladder and sexual side effects – so your team can identify solutions. 
  • And ask for emotional support and resources. 
  • Finally, if it’s right for you, talk with your doctor about a survivorship care plan. 

Anthony: 

Thanks for joining us! Be sure to download the guide that goes with this video to access the information we discussed.  

And visit powerfulpatients.org/pc to access more videos with Niki and me. 

What You Should Know About Clinical Trials

What You Should Know About Clinical Trials from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What do you need to know about prostate cancer clinical trials? This animated video reviews the clinical trial process and provides questions to ask your healthcare team about trial participation.

Download Resource Guide

See More From Shared Decision Making: Navigating Prostate Cancer Care

Related Resources:

Collaborating With Your Doctor on Your Prostate Cancer Care Plan

Collaborating With Your Doctor on Your Prostate Cancer Care Plan

Tools for Accessing Quality Prostate Cancer Care

Prostate Cancer Care Partners: Getting the Support You Need

Prostate Cancer Care Partners: Getting the Support You Need

Transcript: 

Anthony: 

Hi, I’m Anthony, and I’m living with advanced prostate cancer. And this is my nurse practitioner, Niki.  

Niki: 

Thanks for joining us! 

Without medical research, advances in prostate cancer treatment can’t move forward. Throughout this video, Anthony and I are going to discuss a key part of research: clinical trials. We’ll review what they are and how they work.  

Anthony: 

Niki, what is a clinical trial exactly? 

Niki: 

Excellent question, Anthony. Clinical trials are research studies in people who have a specific condition, or are healthy volunteers, to help find new ways to treat diseases – like prostate cancer.  

Most clinical trials examine the safety and efficacy of medicines, vaccines, and other medical treatments. 

And clinical trials are the main path for cancer treatments to be approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration – also known as the FDA – requires that all new medicines and treatments go through the clinical trial process before they are approved. 

So, why would someone consider participating in a trial? Some people choose to participate to access a potential new medicine or treatment that’s not yet approved to see if it helps their condition. And some people want to help move research forward to help others with the same condition – while other people participate for both reasons. 

Anthony: 

That’s right – advancing research through participation is an important path to new options for treating prostate cancer.   

So, Niki – can you explain how clinical trials are designed to answer key questions? 

Niki: 

Yes, of course. Most importantly, each clinical trial has a protocol, which is a document that sets guidelines that define and outline the activities of the clinical trial as well as who may be eligible to participate. 

The early phase trials determine the safety of the treatment, and the latter phases typically examine if the potential therapy is effective. 

All along the way, the study clinic staff  – including nurses, researchers, and study doctors  –check clinical trial participants regularly to monitor for any safety concerns.  

Anthony: 

But to be successful, clinical trials require people to volunteer. And people interested in participating will have to meet the trial criteria to participate, correct? 

Niki: 

Yes, that’s correct, and this can include things like a person’s age, disease stage, prior treatments, and overall health. Remember that everyone’s situation is unique. 

Anthony: 

And people often have misconceptions about clinical trials that prevent them from considering participation. Let’s run through a few common concerns. 

For instance, some people worry that they will receive placebowhich is a non-active medicine  –  if they participate in a clinical trial. Niki, is this true? 

Niki:  

A cancer patient would never receive only the placebo without the current standard-of-care and will always be told that the trial will contain a placebo in advance of their participation. 

Anthony: 

OK, that makes sense. Some people also wonder about the risks and safety of a clinical trial.  Niki, can you share some information about this?  

Niki:  

Great question. Most importantly, research must meet ethical standards to ensure that participants are protected. There is a strict screening and testing process that occurs before a person can participate.  

And, clinical trials are voluntary  – participants have the right to leave the trial at any time.  

Additionally, there is an informed consent process, which ensures that people are fully informed about all potential risks and benefits and helps people understand their rights before taking part.  

Anthony: 

Ok. Thank you for clearing that up. Niki, what about the misconception that clinical trials are just a last-resort treatment option?  

Niki: 

They are not just a last-resort option at all, Anthony. No matter when a patient was diagnosed with prostate cancer, or where they are in their care, clinical trial participation may be an option.  

Anthony: 

So, if someone is interested in participating in a clinical trial or learning more about clinical research – where do they start?  

Niki:  

Your doctor is the best source of information. You can ask your doctor: 

  • What trials are available to me? 
  • Is there a clinical trial that you would recommend for me? Why? 
  • What are the possible risks and advantages of participating in this clinical trial? 
  • Are there costs associated with the trial, and will my health insurance help cover costs? And if not, is there financial assistance available?  
  • Where is the trial being conducted? Is there a clinical trial available to me in my local community? If the trial isn’t nearby or convenient, is there transportation and/or housing assistance? 
  • Finally, if you want to learn more about ongoing prostate cancer research and clinical trials, ask your doctor for a list of credible resources. 

Anthony:  

Be sure to download the guide that accompanies this video to access a list of these questions and to help you review what you learned. 

Niki: 

Thanks for joining us! And visit powerfulpatients.org/pc to access more videos with Anthony and me. 

Collaborating With Your Doctor on Your Prostate Cancer Care Plan

Collaborating With Your Doctor on Your Prostate Cancer Care Plan from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How can you engage in your prostate cancer care? In this animated video, you will learn about factors that may impact a prostate cancer care plan and tools for partnering with your healthcare team on treatment decisions.

Download Resource Guide

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Transcript: 

Niki: 

Hi, thanks for joining us! I’m Niki, and I’m a prostate cancer nurse practitioner. And here with me is Anthony, who is living with advanced prostate cancer.   

Anthony: 

Throughout this video, Niki and I are going to discuss factors that may impact a patient’s prostate cancer care plan.  

And as we’ve mentioned in previous videos, it’s important to set goals with your team and understand all of your options before deciding on an approach.  

Niki: 

Right, Anthony. So, what could impact a treatment plan decision? Factors may include: 

  • Your age and overall health, including any existing conditions that you may have.
  • Disease-related symptoms may also affect your options.
  • The stage and grade of your prostate cancer and whether you need to be treated right away.
  • Test results, including genomic testing, which identifies the presence of genetic mutations in the cancer and may inform how your cancer will behave. 
  • Possible side effects, both short term and long term, may also affect your choices. 

Anthony: 

And, of course, your personal preference should guide the decision as well as how the option may impact your lifestyle. Be open with your care team about what’s important to you and be clear with your goals, including life plans and personal commitments.   

Here are some tips to take a more proactive role in your care: 

  • Talk with close family members and friends about your options. 
  • Consider a second opinion to help confirm your approach. 
  • Talk to your healthcare team about your condition and care options. And ask them for resources available to you, including financial help and emotional support, when making decisions.​ 
  • You can also visit advocacy group websites that have information about prostate cancer, treatment options, and support groups, to help you understand what’s available.​ 

Niki: 

Those are great tips! It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor what they feel is the best approach for you and why. Remember, there is no one-size-fits all approach, and what works for one person may not work for you. 

Anthony: 

Thanks for joining us! Be sure to download the guide that accompanies this video to help you review what you learned.  

And visit powerfulpatients.org/pc to access more videos with Niki and me. 

A Look at Lung Cancer Expert Learnings From Tumor Boards

A Look at Lung Cancer Expert Learnings From Tumor Boards from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Lung cancer tumor boards can bring some key learnings to experts. Dr. Lyudmila Bazhenova and Dr. Jessica Bauman share insights about multidisciplinary tumor boards and how information could potentially be shared with community practices.

Download Resource Guide

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Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester

Well, Dr. Bazhenova, I know that you lead a weekly tumor board for lung cancer, and I’d love to learn more about some of the things that you can share that may be insightful for other lung cancer experts as a result of the tumor board.

Dr. Lyudmila Bazhenova: 

At UC San Diego, we actually have two tumor boards where lung cancer patients can be presented, one is just a traditional multidisciplinary thoracic tumor board, which is attended by a medical oncologist, surgeons, radiation oncologist, pathologist, interventional people, clinical trial coordinators. And I think this is not unique to UC San Diego. The multidisciplinary tumor boards are available in all major academic institutions. And I think lung cancer care is becoming more and more multidisciplinary, especially with the new advances of new adjuvant to chemo-immunotherapy and controversies we still have to this point in management of stage III disease. And I think what I find in a multidisciplinary tumor board…

Because I think what I want to build upon as Dr. Bauman statement that she said that times of an essence here, and I think the multi-d tumor board help us make medical decisions on the spot rather than me sending a patient to see a surgeon or sending a patient to see radiation oncologist and sending patients to see interventional radiologist, and then the IR is telling you, “Oh, we can’t do that biopsy, you gotta send it to the pulmonologist.” I think that actually streamlines the patient care. The second tumor board what we have, that maturity of the lung cancer patients actually don’t get presented there, it’s a molecular tumor board. And the reason why we don’t present majority of the lung cancer patients there because management of antigen-driven lung cancer is pretty straightforward.

I think only presentations I would ever make there if they have an unusual mutation that I can’t find any information about, then I need the help of our molecular pathologist, but it is a good avenue for those weird rare molecular abnormalities that I’ve seen in other malignancies and so that is another option. And there’s actually…many institutions have molecular tumor boards as well. We do open our tumor board not to all communities. So we are not as good as you, Dr. Bauman. So only one community practice can join us because they’re kind of part of us, so we don’t usually…we don’t have it open to the whole community, and I think as an academic institution, we probably should strive to have an open tumor boards where everybody can join and listen and present and that’s the most important.

Dr. Jessica Bauman: 

I do want to say, we don’t..I must have misspoken, we definitely don’t include community practices. So I do think that that would be a fantastic offering in the sense of some of the…I don’t know that we could do that on a weekly basis, but consider something like on a monthly basis or even a quarterly basis of a true tumor board where people can present cases in real time from community practices. 


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Advanced Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer: Who Is on Your Healthcare Team?

Advanced Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer: Who Is on Your Healthcare Team? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What experts make up an advanced non-melanoma skin cancer care team? Dr. Sunandana Chandra shares an overview of typical team members who work together for optimal patient care.

Dr. Sunandana Chandra is a medical oncologist and Associate Professor of Medicine at Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Learn more about Dr. Chandra.

Katherine:

People with advanced non-melanoma skin cancer typically need a multidisciplinary team. Who all is on that team? 

Dr. Chandra:

So, typically the members of a multidisciplinary team include a dermatologist, including potentially a Mohs surgeon if one is available, a surgeon or a surgical oncologist, a pathologist, specifically, a dermatopathologist, if they’re available, because they really focus on scan pathology.  

A medical oncologist, a radiologist who could help us read the imaging, and a radiation oncologist who can actually use radiation to treat certain spots. Now, in addition, we can often also include our palliative and supportive oncology colleagues, especially in the settings where people may have some difficult-to-treat symptoms. They may have enough of an advanced disease where we need to start kind of talking about a person’s goals of care and what their own wishes are for their cancer management and for their life. So, these palliative and supportive oncology colleagues are very, very helpful in those situations. 

Katherine:

Are there also people like social workers, nutritionists? 

Dr. Chandra:

Absolutely. Absolutely.  

So, you know, our social workers, our nurse navigators, our nutritionist and dietitian colleagues, our nurses, our nurse practitioners, I mean, our pharmacists, it takes such a village to help take care of our patients. And I hope a patient or a person realizes that having this village at their fingertips and at our disposal only enhances their care. It’s not meant to complicate their care. It’s not meant to add unnecessary appointments. It’s just to really deliver expert care by each of these individuals who really have a focus on a particular aspect of the delivery of care. 

The Importance of Patient Self-Advocacy in Bladder Cancer Treatment

The Importance of Patient Self-Advocacy in Bladder Cancer Treatment from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Bladder cancer expert Dr. Shilpa Gupta encourages patients to advocate for themselves and to become active members in their treatment and care decisions.

Dr. Shilpa Gupta is the Director of the Genitourinary Medical Oncology at Taussig Cancer Institute and Co-Leader of the Genitourinary Oncology Program at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Gupta’s research interests are novel drug development and understanding biomarkers of response and resistance to therapies in bladder cancer. Learn more about Dr. Gupta, here.

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Transcript:

Katherine:                  

Right. Let’s talk about patient self-advocacy for a moment. Patients can sometimes feel like they’re bothering their healthcare team with their comments and their questions. Why is it important for patients to speak up when it comes to symptoms and side effects?

Dr. Gupta:                  

Yeah, I think the patients have to be their own advocates, right? Unless they do tell their team about what they are going through, many times action will not be taken unless they’re actually seeing their team in real-time.

And sometimes that visit may not be happening for months so it’s very important to never feel that you’re bothering the teams. And nowadays, with all these electronic ways where patients can communicate with their teams, I think patients are very aware that they can send a MyChart message, for example, and someone will get back to them within a day. So, I think that is really important and the way they can communicate with their teams has also evolved.

Katherine:                  

How do you think patients can feel confident in speaking up and becoming a partner in their own care?

Dr. Gupta:                  

I think they have to tell their doctors during their visit that they would like to – whatever their expectations are and what they would like their teams to do to fulfill those expectations.

I think that’s the best way I can say this. That they should always speak up no matter what and if they feel that their concerns about treatment are not being heard, then they should let their treatment teams know and ask what alternative treatments there may be. Or, if their life goals have changed, sometimes patients want to get aggressive treatment and sometimes they just don’t want to go through it anymore. They should let their teams know so, adequately; the goals of care can be modified.

Katherine:

Right. If a patient isn’t feeling confident with their treatment plan or their care, should they consider a second opinion or consulting a specialist?  

Dr. Gupta:

Absolutely. I think every patient has a right to consult a second opinion or get second opinions, or even more opinions if they want to make the right decision. Many times, patients are told about one treatment option, and then they want to know, “Well, what alternative options do I have?” “What if I really don’t want my bladder out?” “Is there anything else that can be done?” So, they should be seeing a radiation oncologist in that case.  

I think the way we can really make a difference and offer multidisciplinary care is to have the patient see a surgeon, a radiation oncologist, and a medical oncologist. That’s true multidisciplinary care for anybody with localized disease. For metastatic disease, we have a lot of options and usually medical oncologists are the ones who manage it.   

Patients can always get second opinions if they feel they want to do something less or more aggressive.   

Katherine:

What advice to have for patients who may be nervous about offending their current doctor by getting a second opinion?  

Dr. Gupta:

That’s a great question, Katherine, and I know a lot of patients feel that their doctors may feel offended, but in my experience when – if my patients are not local or they – I actually encourage them to go get second opinions and even make referrals to places which may have trials if we don’t have that. It’s always good to have the patients be able to decide and I don’t think nowadays doctors take offense if patients want to get another opinion. In fact, we try to collaborate with our community oncologists.  

Where, let’s say patients are currently being treated and they come to us to discuss trials or just to discuss if they’re on the right track. We reassure them and reach out to the community doctors that – yes, we totally agree with what the patient is doing, and these are some other options down the line. And, with the advent of virtual health it’s really become a lot more collaborative because patients are still getting treated locally. When the have their scans and have questions they can schedule a virtual appointment with their doctors in institutions where we have more treatment options like trials.  

Katherine:

Dr. Gupta, if patients want to learn more about bladder cancer, or if their families want to learn more what are some credible resources that you would send people to?  

Dr. Gupta:

Yeah, I think it’s always good to get credible information than just Googling things which may or may not be true. Bcan.org is a very powerful resource that is a Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, and as the name implies it’s for the patients, made by bladder cancer advocates.   

That’s one of the resources that we highly recommend. Then there’s the resource that you all are working on. So, I think these collectively are the best sources of information which patients should try to stick to.   

Katherine:

Right. That’s good advice. To close, what would you like to leave our audience with? What are you hopeful about?  

Dr. Gupta:

I think I would like to say that there’s a lot of good information, there’s a lot of advocacy resources. Patients should try to get their information from these verified sources and bring it to their care teams. And never hesitate to reach out for whatever they need during their diagnosis and treatment phase. Always ask questions. Ask about clinical trials. Ask about alternative options. That’s what I would leave the message to be.   

Katherine:

Thank you so much for joining us today, Dr. Gupta. We really appreciate it.   

Dr. Gupta:

Thank you, Katherine.