A cancer patient will typically see many specialists, from diagnosis through treatment and recovery. The Oregon Cancer Alliance (OCA) streamlines the medical process for patients by bringing together a team of multidisciplinary specialists in the Eugene-Springfield community. Their goal is to see patients quickly, help them manage their appointments and collaborate to create the best treatment plan.
“Often times, when a patient is first diagnosed, a lot of their anxiety and concern comes from the thought, ‘I’m going to see this person over here, and I’m going to see this person over there, but what if they have different plans?’ That is what the Oregon Cancer Alliance works to avoid,” says Dr. Haidy Lee, a radiation oncologist at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute.
As members of the OCA, surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, plastic surgeons, naturopathic physicians and other specialty clinics commit to working together on the patient’s behalf by:
- Complying with National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines
- Seeing patients in a timely manner, typically within 1-2 weeks
- Sharing electronic medical records, so each physician is informed of the patient’s condition and care
- Providing patient navigators to expedite scheduling, assist patients in managing appointments and help them feel supported.
Dr. Peter Kay of Eugene Gastroenterology Consultants says: “The goal is to provide quality of care, comprehensive care, and to be able to give the patient the feeling that they’re taken care of—that they’re put in a process that makes sense, that they will be guided through it, and they don’t have to have this big fear factor. Because, often, that’s what cancer is to patients; it’s the fear of the unknown.”
Collaborating on the patient’s behalf
Members of the OCA also commit to attending tumor boards, which are regular meetings of specialists who discuss individual cancer cases and collaborate on the appropriate treatment plan for each patient.
“We have the radiologist show us the images, review labs, and have the pathologist show us the slides. This is really important in coordinating a patient’s care and allowing a bunch of different specialists to weight in,” says Dr. Jonathan Gonenne with Eugene Gastroenterology Consultants.
When the current health crisis hit, OCA physicians moved away from in-person tumor board gatherings and into a virtual platform, so they could continue to meet to discuss patient cases.
“This is pretty amazing during a pandemic that we’re able to do all of this without compromising patient care,” says Dr. Winnie Henderson with Northwest Surgical Specialists. “We haven’t stopped. We continue to take care of our cancer patients in the most appropriate way.”
The Oregon Cancer Alliance has care teams focused on patients with different types of cancer, including breast, endocrine, gynecological and gastrointestinal. To schedule an appointment to be seen by an OCA physician, complete this form.