There is a Difference Between Cancer Treatment and Cancer Care

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A diagnosis of cancer is very trying. It can be trying not only on the person diagnosed, but also on their family and friends. Hoag Family Cancer Institute recognizes that a patient not only needs expert technology and treatment, but also expert care – addressing their social, spiritual and emotional needs and their support team. And that’s what Hoag provides. An extensive support team, consisting of social workers, nurse navigators, genetic counselors and others who provide the support services that help patients navigate and manage the murky waters of diagnosis, treatment and recovery.

“Our commitment to comprehensive care means we are just as serious about offering industry-leading support services as we are about providing state-of-the-art treatment options,” said Caitlin Glenn, ASW, oncology clinical social worker for Hoag Family Cancer Institute. “Hoag is focused on treating the whole person – their bodies as well as their minds and spirits.”

This comprehensive approach has distinguished Hoag as an institute unlike any other, with nurse navigators, genetic counselors, support group leaders and exercise coordinators as dedicated to patients as the oncologists and surgeons on the team.

And they really are a team.

“Our multidisciplinary approach means the medical providers, the support team and the patients themselves collaborate on care to make sure that everyone is addressing the patients’ needs,” said Sandy Southerland, B.S.N., R.N., O.C.N., an oncology nurse navigator and South County resident.

Patients are each assigned a designated clinical nurse navigator like Sandy to coordinate their multidisciplinary care plan and guide them through treatment and recovery. These nurses ensure that lines of communications stay open between patients and their specialists, doctors and support services providers.

They also help to direct patients to the outstanding social workers, support groups, classes and workshops that distinguish Hoag as a leader in patient-centered cancer care. Hoag’s programs offer everything from genetic counseling to palliative care to consultations with experts who can help patients improve their appearance during treatment.

These services all have a common goal – relieving anxiety through information and nurturing care. This is particularly true of Hoag’s hereditary cancer assessment program, which offers risk assessment counseling and genetic testing to people with a personal or family history of cancer.

“Knowledge is power, and what patients crave is the information that can help them participate in and direct their care,” said genetic counselor, and Irvine resident Jeanne Homer, M.S. “That’s what makes Hoag’s program so unique and so sought-after.”

Hoag’s medical team has seen first-hand how support services has amplified and strengthened the care they are able to provide.

“In many parts of the country, even as innovations in cancer care have progressed, cancer care delivery is still in crisis. It isn’t patient- centered enough and doesn’t answer to patients’ needs,” said An Nguyen, M.D., Hoag-affiliated Oncologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “That is why all of us here believe support services are not ‘extra.’ They are part of what makes our program so successful. By addressing the emotional, wellness and psychological aspects of cancer treatment, our support services greatly benefit patients during and after treatment.”

For more information about Hoag Family Cancer Institute’s Support Services, check out: or call 949-7-CANCER.