Chemotherapy has been around for a long time and it remains one of the most effective treatments types for many types of cancer. Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of abnormal cells that have divided and multiplied rapidly by attacking the DNA of the cells to kill them or prevent them from dividing. This type of treatment cannot distinguish between cancer cells and normal cells so it will attack both potentially causing some unwanted side effects such as fatigue, nausea, and hair loss. Chemotherapy can be commonly used in conjunction with other treatments such as radiation or surgery depending on the type of cancer.
It does this by stimulating a patient’s immune system to locate and eliminate the cancer cells with medication that contains proteins to enhance the body’s ability to fight the cancer. Over the past decade there has been substantial progress in using immunotherapy. Some believe the concept dated back to more than 100 years to when doctors first noticed that some patients went into remission after their immune system fought a fever.
PODCAST: The Power of Immunotherapy! Dr. Joel Michalski, Medical Oncologist with Nebraska Cancer Specialists stops by to touch on the relationship between cancer and your immune system, advances of immunotherapy in the modern age, and a little history lesson too! Have you heard of CAR-T cells and checkpoint inhibitors?
This type of treatment, also known as precision medicine, uses an approach to treatment based on the genetic make-up of the specific cancer. Molecular testing can be used to identify a more accurate diagnosis in complex cases and can help patients identify if there is a genetic risk for cancer that runs in their family. Targeted therapies attack the genetic molecules that allow cancer cells to spread and multiply. The key to targeted therapy is the ability to identify cancer cells and avoid healthy cells. Not all cancers are receptive to targeted therapy and patients will need to undergo tests to determine if they are a candidate.
On average, our patients have access to over 100 active clinical trials, more than any other facility in Nebraska. These trials offer patients innovative treatments that may not be available outside the trial thus providing access to cutting edge treatment options.
The physicians of Nebraska Cancer Specialists are some of the most experienced and highly qualified in the area. At NCS, not only will you have a medical oncologist, you will have an entire dedicated team to support you, and have access to, throughout your treatment. We have received the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) and American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) certifications consistent with the highest standards of care.
A medical oncologist is a physician who focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. This physician has extensive knowledge of the varying signs and symptoms of cancer, as well as the different methods of treatment. The medical oncologist influences every aspect of your care and works closely with you, your family and your care team.
Our team of compassionate Nurse Practitioners (NP) and Physician Assistants (PA) work closely with our oncologists. Both NPs and PAs have advanced training in diagnosing and treating patients and can administer exams, order tests, interpret diagnostics and write prescriptions
Your oncology nurse case manager works closely with your medical oncologist and is your first point of contact between visits. They can help you with any symptoms you are having or any other questions or concerns. You are encouraged to reach out to them by calling the clinic. A trained operator will take your information and notify your nurse case manager immediately of your call.
Your medical assistant will meet you after check-in and obtain your vital signs and weight. This will happen at every visit. Your medication list will also be reviewed at each visit. It is very important we are aware of the medications you are taking to avoid interference with your treatment regimen.
Each medical oncology care team is rounded out with a dedicated patient scheduler. Your scheduler will scheduler all of your appointments, including additional tests, scans or referrals.
In addition to your physician care team, a network of staff is here to ensure you are not alone. Our focus is to make everything as simple and reassuring as possible.
We understand the financial burden cancer care can have on patients and their families. We have designated patient financial advocates that work one-on-one with patients to review insurance benefits, coordinate alternative payment methods.
The Infusion nurses have been specially trained and certified to administer chemotherapy and other medications. The RNs in the infusion suite assess symptoms and collaborate with providers for the best outcomes for patients. They coordinate care with other members of your care team, and educate and counsel patients and families.
The Infusion Medical Assistants (MA) work closely with the Infusion RNs and are trained to administer injections and obtain specimens. They also review blood work and discuss symptoms you may be having.
The lab at NCS is staffed with Medical Technologists and Phlebotomists. These highly trained professionals perform blood draws, prepare specimens and analyze results.
With over 100 clinical trials available at Nebraska Cancer Specialists, it takes a team of dedicated professionals. The research team provides our medical oncologists convenient access to updated clinical trial information to explore options with patients.
Our radiation oncologists are specialty physicians who use ionizing radiation in the treatment of cancer. Your treatment plan may or may not include this treatment.
Oncology pharmacists play an important role in the delivery of care to patients living with cancer. Our team of Oncology Certified Pharmacists and their team of certified pharmacy technicians work together to prepare your treatment onsite in the clinic, especially for you.
Volunteers provide valuable supportive services to patients and their family. You may see a volunteer around offering a warm blanket, a listening ear or support.
A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a Registered Nurse (RN) with academic and clinical education at the graduate level. An advanced degree in nursing along with specialty education enables the NP to diagnose and manage many common illnesses, both acute and chronic. A Physician Assistant (PA) is a healthcare professional licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. Both NPs and PAs at Nebraska Cancer Specialists provide care as part of your physician team lead by a medical oncologist.
A graduate-level training program is required for a Nurse Practitioner. In order to begin this training, a nurse must have a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and be licensed to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN). Also required is a Board Certification. NPs may seek additional certification in a specialty such as oncology. Physician Assistants are educated in the medical model designed to complete physician training. Upon completion of training, physician assistants are eligible to sit for the national certification exam. A “PA-C” is a nationally certified physician assistant who is required to complete annual continuing medical education requirements and must pass a recertification exam every six years to maintain the credential. Specialty postgraduate training is available for physician assistants, but this is optional.
Nurse practitioners are licensed in their state and are certified by the national nursing organization in a specialty area. Nurse Practitioners must meet mandatory continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses, as well as meet the requirements to maintain their national certification. PAs are certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (PCCPA) and are regulated by the State Medical Boards specific to their state of practice. Both NPs and PAs must have verification of their qualifications and clinical competencies and skills in order to practice.