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Resources and Treatments

As a cancer patient or caregiver you have enough on your mind and many new things to navigate. We wanted to make finding pertinent information as easy as possible for you, and this page is dedicated to providing you with a list of treatments, services, and resources the Center for Cancer Care, and Canton-Potsdam Hospital have to offer. 

Planning Your First Visit

Consider bringing a family member or friend to your appointment. A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, and you’ll likely be presented with more information than you can remember. Your friend can help ask questions, take notes, and support you throughout the process of your cancer treatment.

It's a good idea to bring a notebook and pen to take notes, comfortable clothing to stay warm, and a book, magazine, tablet, or other form of entertainment. 

Some tips to make your first visit easier:

  • Organize your medical records. It’s helpful for your practitioner to know your full health history, prescription and non-prescription medicines you’re taking and their respective dosages, any known allergies, and contact information for doctors that you see regularly.
  • Bring your health insurance information, including your insurance card and prescription card.
  • Provide Canton-Potsdam Hospital with your emergency contact information. 
Diagnosis and Screening

Imaging allows your doctors to see what’s going on inside your body and is often the first step in determining a cancer diagnosis and course of treatment. Learn about the Imaging Options available through the Center for Cancer Care. 

Pathology is the examination of tissues and fluids in order to diagnose cancer. Those samples are usually derived from biopsies, blood tests, and other tests.  Our pathology team then closely examines the samples and uses specialized stains to make a diagnosis. They share and review their findings with the appropriate physician.  When necessary, our pathologists collaborate with other labs in order to confirm a diagnosis.

Gastroenterology plays a key role in the detection and diagnosis of cancers that affect the digestive tract, including liver cancer, stomach cancer, colon cancer, and esophageal cancer. Gastroenterologists use endoscopes—flexible tubes with cameras attached—to see inside patients’ GI tracts, remove polyps, and detect abnormalities. A colonoscopy is a specific type of endoscopy that allows gastroenterologists to see into the colon and detect any signs of colorectal cancer. Our gastroenterologists collaborate with oncologists, surgeons, and the entire cancer team as their patients undergo treatment. In addition to providing valuable cancer screenings, they also often assist cancer patients who are experiencing GI-related side effects.

The Wait Time between your referral and your first meeting with the medical oncologist depends on the time it takes to conduct the appropriate tests and determine a diagnosis.

It is essential that you schedule regular screenings and tests to stay abreast of any changes in your health. Regular screenings will help the cancer care team detect any recurrences or metastases at an earlier, treatable stage. Our nurse navigator will help you schedule the appropriate follow-up care appointments.

Treatment Options

Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, which means that it travels throughout the body to reach cancer to target cancel cells wherever they have spread.

Radiation therapy uses X-rays and other forms of radioactive energy to destroy cancerous cells by damaging their DNA.

Hematology is the study of blood diseases, including blood cancers such as Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma, and myelodysplastic syndrome.Our Hematology team treats patients with blood cancer and other non-cancerous blood diseases. Hematology patients can receive iron infusions and phlebotomies at the Center for Cancer Care.

Our highly skilled team of board-certified surgeons operates with extraordinary precision: they make sure to remove as much cancerous tissue as possible while only making necessary incisions. Our surgeons collaborate with your oncologist, the entire cancer center team, and their colleagues in the field to ensure you receive the best care possible. In many cases, surgery is paired with chemotherapy or radiation to shrink the tumor.

Center for Cancer Care providers can collaboration with other providers to ensure you receive the best care possible. Patients may wish to consult with doctors at larger institutions, and then opt to coordinate with their home oncologist and receive treatment at Canton-Potsdam Hospital. If, however, a patient is diagnosed with a rare or complicated cancer, in many cases it is in their best interest that we refer them to a larger academic or tertiary care hospital with the appropriate specialists. 

In order to make your cancer treatment as seamless and convenient as possible, the cancer center has an on-site pharmacy where cancer and hematology patients can receive necessary medication. Our pharmacy is staffed by the North Country’s only board-certified oncology pharmacist. In collaboration with our staff oncologists, our pharmacist monitors each patient's treatment and lab results, and adjusts dosages when necessary. 

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are controlled tests of the newest medicines, and precede a drug’s FDA approval and release on the market. A clinical trial offers patients access to new drugs and the opportunity to contribute to scientific knowledge that benefits others.

There are Three Phases to Clinical Trials:

  • Phase I, which determines whether people can safely take the drug
  • Phase II, which determines whether the drug works to effectively treat disease
  • Phase III, when a drug that has worked well in a small group of people is widely tested and its results are compared to the current standard of care

The Center for Cancer Care partners with Canton-Potsdam Hospital's Clinical Research Department to evaluate opportunities to enroll patients in clinical trials.

Even if we do not offer a clinical trial at the Center for Cancer Care, our oncologists collaborate with and refer patients to physicians at academic medical centers to ensure our they have access to the most advanced treatment.

Personalized Care

We support you by personalizing every aspect of your cancer care experience, from  the medicines you take to the food that you eat, from the appointments you make to services you seek.

Patient Advocates coordinate the care you need. Our licensed clinical social worker is available for bedside counseling. Our navigator can also connect you to any services you might need, including mental health counseling, home care, financial assistance, transportation, and Medicaid. Our nurse navigator serves as your guide throughout treatment. by coordinating your care, scheduling appointments, and acting as your central point of contact. The navigator ensures you and your family have all the information you need to make informed decisions throughout the process of your cancer diagnosis and treatment. If any issues arise, They will connect you to the appropriate care providers and help you find the answers you need.

We know patients benefit when we put our heads together. That’s why we regularly hold Tumor Board, a collaborative meeting where our oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, nurses, and other staff members discuss patient cases in-depth. Any Canton-Potsdam Hospital staff member who works with cancer patients is welcome to attend, and anyone can introduce a case they believe merits collaborative investigation with their colleagues.

Nutritional Support is available to ensure your body has proper nutrition. Cancer treatments can produce side effects that impact how you eat, including nausea, appetite loss, sore or dry mouth, difficulty in chewing or swallowing, and changes in taste or smell. Our registered dietitian works closely with your cancer treatment team to ensure you get the nutrition you need. She will meet with you to discuss your diagnosis and will provide meal plans, recipes, and supplement recommendations throughout the course of your cancer treatment. If you are a Canton-Potsdam Hospital cancer patient currently experiencing nutrition-related symptoms, contact registered Dietitian Lauren Smith at (315) 261-5351 or (315) 323-6937.  

Complementary Care

Providing cancer care means more than simply administering chemotherapy and radiation: it means supporting your mind, body, and spirit during what can be a long and difficult process. The Center for Cancer Care offers these modalities of complementary care that help you relieve stress, restore functionality, and focus on healing. 

Speech therapy can help mitigate difficulty swallowing and speech impediments, two common side-effects from radiation therapy. Should you need speech therapy, your oncologist or primary care provider will refer you to our speech therapist, who will prescribe appropriate exercises to help restore your speech.

Through manipulation of the body’s soft tissues, Massage Therapy relieves muscle tension, improves circulation, and promotes relaxation. 

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are placed along strategic points in the body. It can be helpful in treating pain and mitigating stress. 

Reiki is a Japanese form of healing touch that can relieve stress and promote relaxation.

Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, and Reiki are free for all cancer patients. Please contact the Center for Cancer Care at (315) 261-5890 for a list of dates and times these services are available. 

Emotional Support

At the Center for Cancer Care, we know how emotionally challenging cancer can be for our patient and their caregivers, and we make sure you have access to the mental health services you need. Cancer diagnosis and treatment can impact patients’ and their caregivers’ mental health: you might feel anxious, depressed, angry, or that you’ve lost control.

Our social worker is available to our patients for bedside counseling, and can also connect you to additional mental health counseling, support groups, and other social services. 

As a caregiver, you may find yourself suddenly thrust into keeping track of appointments and medications, providing transportation, and managing additional expenses that are part of cancer treatment. Your relationship with the loved one you’re caring for may change. 

If you are a patient or caregiver in need of emotional support, please contact our licensed clinical social worker at (315) 261-5015

The National Cancer Institute offers strategies and resources for coping with the emotional impact of cancer. 

The Association of Oncology Social Work offers resources for patients, caregivers, and families.

The American Cancer Society offers advice on caregiving, self-care, and lending support. 

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute offers caregiver resources, tips on self-care, and recommended reading. 

Cancer Care Financing

The Center for Cancer Care has a full-time Financial Specialist who is available to discuss any concerns you may have about the cost of treatment. Our Financial Specialist is an expert at determining insurance coverage and assisting you in obtaining assistance. You can reach our Specialist directly at (315) 261-5915.

We encourage you to talk to your insurance company in order to understand the specifics of how your insurance plan covers cancer care.

Canton-Potsdam Hospital has dedicated patient-friendly financial counselors who can help with financial planning, and our licensed clinical social worker can help you navigate Medicaid, and refer you to community agencies that provide assistance. In some cases, the Center for Cancer Care and Canton-Potsdam Hospital may provide limited financial assistance to assist with patients’ co-pays, prescriptions, transportation, and utilities.

Stay on top of your screenings and know the importance of early detection. Review the American Cancer Society's list of recommendations regarding what tests should be conducted at what age throughout your life.