Clinical trials are research studies that involve patient volunteers to help find different ways to treat diseases such as cancer and disorders of the blood. Each study is designed to answer specific scientific questions and help find potentially better methods of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
Some cancer patients may participate because they are hoping for a possible cure and longer life or a way to feel better. Others find that the current standard therapies are not optimal for their cancer and wish to be among the first to participate in a research study and receive an investigational drug. Whatever the reason, participation could make a difference in a patient's future, as well as in the lives of future cancer patients.
Yes. At Virginia Oncology Associates we are dedicated to finding new and better ways to treat cancer through research and clinical trials. We have access to clinical trials through our affiliation with US Oncology Research, directly through National Cancer Institute Cooperative Groups, Eastern Virginia Medical School, the Duke Oncology Network, and other major cancer centers.
The US Oncology Network is one of the nation’s largest networks of integrated, community-based oncology practices dedicated to advancing high-quality, evidence-based cancer care. A physician-led organization, The US Oncology Network unites like-minded physicians and clinicians around a common vision of improving patient outcomes and quality of life. Leveraging healthcare information technology, shared best practices, evidence-based guidelines and quality measurements, physicians within The US Oncology Network are pioneering new ways to achieve this vision.
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.
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 number of people with a history of cancer in the United States has increased dramatically, from 3 million in 1971 to about 13.7 million today. About 64% of today's cancer survivors were diagnosed with cancer five or more years ago. And, approximately 15% of all cancer survivors were diagnosed 20 or more years ago.
Source: National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Survivorship
Today, there is no cure. Tremendous scientific advances have significantly extended 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.
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.
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:
- Describes the size of the tumor and whether the cancer has spread to nearby tissue and organs.
- Describes how far the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
- Shows whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other organs of 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.
Risk factors vary by kind of cancer. Someone who has used tobacco products has a greater risk of developing lung and/or mouth 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.
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.
No. Some tumors are benign (noncancerous) and do not spread to other parts of the body. Cancerous tumors are called malignant.
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.
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.
Cancer is not one disease, but a general term covering many distinct diseases. Each type of cancer has patterns that may differ from other types of cancer, and the same type often affects one person differently from another. Because there are so many variables, different types of treatments may be required and no one treatment is right for everyone. That's why our physicians at Virginia Oncology Associates customize a treatment plan to meet each patient's specific diagnosis, needs and condition.
To ensure your privacy and the security of your medical records we’re asking our patients to enroll when you are in the clinic. Below are the steps:
- Visit a clinic and sign a waiver form giving us permission to provide you access to your health information via the internet.
- Receive an email (usually within 72 hours of visiting the clinic) and follow the instructions to create your online account.
- Keep your password and login information. If you’ve lost it, visit the site and use the “forgot password” or “forgot username” links to recover them.
Our office billing staff will prepare and submit your insurance claim for all office visits, lab tests and in-office procedures. Virginia Oncology Associates accepts assignment from most insurance companies including, Medicare and Medicaid.
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 the 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.
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 responsiblities for any uncovered expenses.
Virginia Oncololgy Associates (VOA) provides 11 sites of service in Hampton Roads and North Carolina and the surrounding areas, and 40 physicians. For more information on Virginia Oncology Associates Locations & Physicians, please visit this section of our website. Many times your primary care physician will refer you to a specific VOA physician. If you choose to select one of our physicians or locations yourself, you may use the physician or location search function in the Locations & Physicians section of our website.
To schedule an appointment with Virginia Oncology Associates, 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.
Yes, all of our locations are wheelchair accessible. We also have wheelchairs available for patients that may need assistance while in our clinics.
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