You have questions, we have answers.
Learning that you have cancer can be overwhelming, and you will likely have many questions about your care. Additionally, caregivers may be unsure about how they can help loved ones through this difficult time. To provide patients and caregivers with relevant information, on this page Regional Cancer Care Associates, or RCCA, answers questions we frequently hear from the people and families we serve at our care centers in New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, DC, area.
For your first visit, please bring a form of personal identification (such as a driver’s license), a list of medications you take with dose and frequency of each, any imaging records, information on your medical history, and your insurance card. You may also need a physician referral, depending on your insurance policy.
Also, you may want to bring a list of questions or concerns you want to discuss with the physician.
Finally, we encourage you to have a family member or friend accompany you, as it can be helpful for patients to have “another set of ears” at this first visit. However, because patient well-being is our top priority, please check with your care center in advance of the visit to ensure that our COVID-related safety protocols – which we adapt in step with the current level of COVID in the community – currently make provision for relatives or friends to join the patient at visits
Your doctor will:
summarize next steps, again answering any questions you may have.
The physician may ask you to get blood work following your first appointment. Medical imaging scans (i.e. CTs, MRIs, PETs, etc.) and other tests – if they are needed — likely will be arranged later.
The first consultation is mostly about your diagnosis and identifying your specific needs. Treatment with immunotherapy, chemotherapy or other therapies appropriate for your care, will begin later. Further tests generally are performed before treatment begins. These tests usually include bloodwork and may also include biopsies and scans. Additionally, your insurer must authorize a treatment before we can start it. However, our office staff has long experience in working with insurers to secure authorization as quickly as possible. Before any treatment begins, we will provide you with in-depth, individualized education about what your treatment plans entails, the goals of treatment, and what to expect.
Most patients receive immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and other treatments at our care centers, with our experienced oncology nurses administering the treatment under a physician’s supervision. However, insurance policies may require some patients to obtain this outpatient treatment at a neighboring hospital. If that is the case, our physicians and clinical staff will coordinate closely with their counterparts at the hospital. Radiation therapy, if required, typically is administered at a separate radiation oncology center or hospital, with our medical oncologists communicating and collaborating closely with their radiation oncology colleagues.
Our medical oncologists/hematologists have extensive experience and expertise treating the full range of non-cancerous (benign) blood disorders, such as anemia and coagulation disorders, as well as cancers of the blood and blood-forming tissues, such as leukemia and lymphoma.
If you need financial support to cover your treatment-related expenses, our staff will guide you to assistance programs that may be able to help if you meet their eligibility criteria. You can find out more about these programs by visiting our Financial Advocacy page.
If you need copies of your health information documents, contact us to request the proper release form. Right now, we do not have downloadable forms on our website.
If you have a full-time job, you may need to request time off to help your loved one. Find out if your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or if you and your employer are covered by the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Bear in mind, however, that the FMLA only applies to certain businesses and individuals.
Caregivers with children may need to ask friends or other family members to babysit from time to time.
However, because children can experience stress when a loved one has cancer, you should make time to listen to their concerns
Our medical professionals will provide the caregiver with information as long as the patient is present for the conversation and gives his or her permission. For any conversations where the patient will not be present, the patient must sign a release form specifying who an RCCA clinician is allowed to speak with, and what type of information may and may not be discussed.
Regional Cancer Care Associates is one of fewer than 200 medical practices in the country selected to participate in the Oncology Care Model (OCM); a recent Medicare initiative aimed at improving care coordination and access to and quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing chemotherapy treatment.