Being diagnosed with cancer can be shocking, overwhelming and life changing. Whether the diagnosis is yours or a loved one’s, your mind will surely be full of questions. Having answers can help you know where you stand, and how to work with your doctor going forward.
Characteristics of a cancer diagnosis
There are many types of cancers, and they can manifest in different places in the body, even in the blood. And although cancers often have similarities, they can be very different in the ways they grow and spread. Some cancers grow very quickly, while others progress more slowly.
Physicians gage the extent of cancer according to a staging system. The widely used TNM system provides three main pieces of information:
- T – Describes the size of the main tumor and whether it has spread to nearby tissues and organs
- N – Assesses how far the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
- M – Indicates whether the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body
Choosing cancer treatment
Once your doctor has determined the type and stage of your cancer, he or she will work with you to design a treatment plan. This is where your investigation begins: Don’t be shy about asking questions! Ask as many as you need to gain peace of mind and confidence for the battle ahead. For example, what is the treatment goal? Is the purpose to cure the cancer, control it or treat problems it’s causing? This information plays a role in the decision-making process, but keep in mind that the goal of your treatment may change over time.
For many people, a cancer diagnosis makes them feel like they must have treatment immediately. However, there is usually plenty of time to consider all your options to make the best possible choice. The number and kinds of treatment choices will depend on:
- The type of cancer you have and its location
- The stage of the cancer
- Your age, overall health and personal needs
Cancers respond to treatment in different ways. Some cancers are most effectively treated with surgery. Others react better to medication, radiation treatments or other oncology therapies. Your doctor may combine treatments to achieve the best possible outcome.
Advanced cancer care in East Texas
If you or a loved one is facing a cancer diagnosis, understanding that diagnosis and all your treatment options starts here. With five locations throughout East Texas, HOPE Cancer Center gives you a crucial advantage — convenient access to a team of highly trained, credentialed and compassionate physicians, nurses and staff.
We surround you with focused, individualized care and total support, including genetic testing, integrated therapies, total care coordination, access to clinical trials, an in-house lab and pharmacy and more.
To schedule an appointment with one of our caring board-certified physicians, call 903.592.6152 or click here to use our online form.