In the same way that maps help seafarers to chart a course to their destination, the diagnosis and guidance from the medical staff at the Horizon Regional Cancer Center help patients to navigate the route back to good health. “Every patient that comes is touched by pain and anxiety. We must imbue them with the confidence and hope to carry on, to keep fighting the cancer. One of the most valuable things we can offer them is our attentive and professional medical team.” Dr. Narongsak Kiatikajornthada, M.D., a hematologist-oncologist and co-director of the Horizon Regional Cancer Center, speaks of the role of the medical staff.
With each case that is referred to the Horizon Regional Cancer Center physicians begin the process with a consultation. The illness, symptoms and comorbidities are discussed. “When referrals from other departments—such as lungs, gastro-intestinal, hepatology—reach us, we as a medical team will huddle together to discuss the treatment sequences and approaches to take. Some types of cancer might call for radiation therapy
after the operation. Other cases might require a course of chemotherapy
before or after,” Dr. Narongsak explains.
Working as a team to treat the individual
“As a multidisciplinary team, we work collaboratively to achieve the best results for the patient. No matter where the cancer may occur in the body, we have the surgeons who are experts on those particular subspecialties. Our interventional radiologist are also highly skilled and experienced readers of x-rays, making for pinpoint accuracy in treatment.” Dr. Narongsak speaks of the comprehensive expertise available to the Horizon medical team. Distance is no barrier for treatment either. For example, in cases which require sending samples overseas for a genomic mutation testing, we do not stop at receiving the test result, but we also arrange for overseas experts to join in with the diagnostics and treatment planning discussion via teleconference. We do this regularly. It may seem counter-intuitive, but by going the extra mile to do what truly needs to be done to deliver truly personalized cancer treatment, we can actually save on unnecessary treatment costs.”
More than just treatment at Horizon Regional Cancer Center
“The most advanced state-of-the-art medical equipment can be purchased on the open market. We are fully equipped in that aspect. But what is far harder to assemble than a full suite of expensive equipment, are our highly professional and experienced medical staff, who truly complement each other as a team. Each of our patients are cared for by a team numbering ten or more,” Dr. Narongsak explains how the Horizon Regional Cancer Center stands out.
“Patient morale is extremely important to the success of treatment. The patient is always informed of diagnostic, test results, and chances of recovery by their personal physician at Horizon Regional Cancer Center. But sometimes the patient is not in a condition to receive this information, so in this instance we would inform their family instead. Together with the help of their family members, we will try to get this information across to the patient while maintaining their morale.” Dr. Narongsak on the importance of maintaining patient morale.
“Patients from the East tend to have the most difficulty in accepting the diagnosis and treatment plans. We sometimes have to find indirect ways of breaking the information to them. In cases where the patient has come to us with the cancer already at an advanced stage, the patient often doesn’t even want to know how much time they have left. Patients from western countries tend to be much more willing to accept the blunt truth, and will actually lose confidence in our treatment if we try to hide or varnish the truth.
Dr. Narongsak also expressed his misgivings about alternative herbal remedies and the way that they can affect cancer treatment, as some patients opt to take herbal medicines in addition to the medication prescribed, often without the prior knowledge of their physicians. “Some of these herbal medicines have no clear scientific evidence of success in treating cancer. Sometimes patients will even take them in secret, which can actually worsen their condition. The medicine that we prescribed are backed by clear scientific research, so I would strongly advice our patients to stick to the medicine that we prescribe.”
Ready for rare cancer
“The hardest types of cancer to cure are what we called “rare cancers”. These kinds of cancer are sometimes found in one in a million patients. They can occur in any part of the body, and often have no prior research or treatment standards for us to go on. When we encounter these rare cancers we are still able to provide treatment because we have our own research teams to go through all the scientific research and literature which may be relevant, along with the medical teams who are experienced and skilled enough to extrapolate and adapt towards successful treatment.
“Every cancer patient that comes to Horizon Regional Cancer Center has already been through enough pain and suffering. We want to be the hope, the rock for them to hold onto. We wish to provide the most up-close care possible to allow them to return to a good quality life. To cure them and send them off on their way to a life that they can enjoy, that is our sincerest wish,” confides Dr. Narongsak.
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