Choosing Where to Receive Cancer Care in New Jersey: 5 Factors to Consider

People newly diagnosed with cancer have more options — and thus more hope — than ever before, thanks to a rapidly expanding array of drug therapies, surgical techniques and radiation interventions. But before consulting with a cancer specialist to decide which treatment strategy is best for them, patients must make a more fundamental decision: where to receive care. 

Two medical oncologists with Regional Cancer Care Associates LLC (RCCA), one of the nation’s largest networks of cancer specialists, recently discussed how they counsel patients and families who are weighing this important question. They identified five key factors to consider.

  1. Access to the latest therapies and best approaches to treating cancer. Years ago, said Andrew Bernstein, DO, patients often had to travel to a major academic medical center in a large city to obtain newly approved therapies or to benefit from the most-effective treatment strategies. “That is no longer the case. Today patients have access to immunotherapies, targeted therapies, and other innovative treatments in the community setting,” noted Dr. Bernstein, a board-certified medical oncologist and hematologist who practices with RCCA in RiverdaleAdditionally, said Rachel Levenbach, MD, oncologists’ use of evidence-based guidelines fosters a consistent and high-quality approach to cancer care nationwide, in both the community and academic settings. “Regardless of where oncologists practice, we’re assessing the same evidence and looking at the same guidelines, while using our skill and experience to individualize care based on each patient’s specific needs,” said Dr. Levenbach, a board-certified medical oncologist and hematologist who practices with RCCA in Moorestown.
  1. Convenience and quality of life. Dr. Bernstein noted that family and friends often will urge a New Jersey resident newly diagnosed with cancer to seek care in New York City or Philadelphia. He said, “I understand that initial inclination to ‘go to the city,’ and I always encourage patients to investigate every option, ask every question, obtain additional medical opinions, and to make the choice that they decide is best for them. And, what I’ve seen time and again is that once people understand that they have access to the same therapies and care strategies in a community setting that they would receive in an academic medical center 50 miles or more away, they typically opt to be treated locally. In part, that’s because contending with getting out of Manhattan or Philadelphia at rush hour after a chemotherapy session or other treatment can be daunting compared to being 10 minutes away from home.”
Dr. Bernstein, board certified hematology and medical oncology, practicing with RCCA in Riverdale, NJ
Dr. Bernstein, board certified hematology and medical oncology, practicing with RCCA in Riverdale, NJ
Rachel-Levenbach-1
Dr. Levenbach, board certified hematology, internal medicine and medical oncology, practicing with RCCA in Moorestown, NJ
  1. Personalized attention and care. “One of the real benefits of community-based oncology care is that everyone in our office, from the people at the front desk to the nurses and physicians, really comes to know each patient and her or his family personally,” Dr. Levenbach said. “When someone arrives, they are seeing familiar faces and are greeted by name. There is an ongoing rapport. That counts for a lot.”
  1. Collaboration with a patient’s other physicians. It’s the rare cancer patient who doesn’t have at least one other health issue, whether that be high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma or some other chronic condition. The presence of these other conditions can complicate treatment decisions due to the potential for drug-drug interactions. “No matter where they’re located, cancer specialists work hard to communicate with a patient’s other physicians, but there’s definitely an advantage when the physicians know one another from practicing in the same community and being on staff at the same hospital. You interact more often, you’re more familiar with each other, and it’s just easier to provide integrated care that addresses the full range of a patient’s health needs,” said Dr. Levenbach.
  1. Access to clinical trials. Dr. Bernstein noted that RCCA’s 20+ care centers across New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and the Washington, D.C. area are participating in approximately 300 clinical trials.

Dr. Levenbach said, “A decade or more ago, access to clinical trials was one of the key differentiating factors between community-based care and academic centers in large cities. That distinction no longer holds true, and the ability to participate in a clinical trial in a community center both benefits patients and increases the breadth and pace of research.”

She added, “Whether it’s a matter of access to trials, or to the latest diagnostics or therapy, I truly believe that physicians who treat people with cancer want those people to receive the best possible care and won’t hesitate to refer a patient elsewhere if there is a unique situation or a specific therapy available at another center that would be beneficial. At the same time, I’m proud that the breadth of expertise across various solid tumors and blood-based malignancies that we possess at RCCA, as well as our ability to provide cutting-edge diagnostics, the latest therapies and access to trials, allows us to provide personalized, compassionate, and outstanding care to our patients right here in the community.”

Drs. Bernstein and Levenbach are among the 90+ cancer specialists who treat patients at more than 20 RCCA care centers located throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, DC, area. RCCA oncologists and hematologists see more than 23,000 new patients each year and provide care to more than 225,000 established patients, collaborating closely with their patients’ other physicians. They offer patients the latest in cutting-edge treatments, including immunotherapies and targeted therapy, as well as access to a wide range of clinical trials. In addition to serving patients who have solid tumors, blood-based cancers, and benign blood disorders such as anemia, RCCA care centers also provide infusion services to people with a number of non-oncologic conditions—including multiple sclerosisCrohn’s diseaseasthma, iron-deficiency anemia, and rheumatoid arthritis—who take intravenously-administered medications.

To learn more about RCCA, call 844-928-0089 or visit RCCA.com 

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For more information or to schedule an appointment,
call 844-346-7222. You can also schedule an appointment by calling the RCCA location nearest you.

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