What Makes A Good Hematologist

A lot of dedication, motivation, and intelligence is required to become one of NJ’s Best Hematologists. Years of undergraduate and graduate school are required to get your Ph.D. in hematology. The day you walk down the aisle doesn’t make you a good hematologist. There are a lot of qualities outside of where and when you graduated that can determine how good of a hematologist you are. From a patient perspective, here is what to look for in a hematologist to make sure you are getting the highest quality of care possible.

Communication

A good doctor is a strong communicator and surrounds themselves with powerful communication lines. A health concern can lead people to have many questions and concerns. A good doctor will be able to field these thoughts in actionable ways and within a realistic time frame. Communication skills don’t stop at the patient level. A good doctor should be able to effectively communicate with other medical professionals, family, and friends as well.

Organization

A good doctor should have an organized and regimented process with their patients. A doctor’s organization skills should be developed from an early age onward. Naturally, higher education fosters it as one of the main skills to have. You can’t be that successful in medicine without having organizational skills. Organizational skills allow a doctor to stay aware of details and keep everything monitored.

Curiosity

Curiosity is an important trait for a doctor to have. Good doctors don’t just follow their medical textbooks and notes. Curiosity allows doctors to try innovative treatment plans that can be more effective than the traditional way. You want a doctor who is willing to listen to their patient and explore options that some may deem off the beaten path. Without curiosity, there is no innovation.

Collaborative

Related back to communication, a doctor should be team-oriented and collaborative. In many cases, doctors will have to work alongside multiple specialists to accomplish a particular goal. A good doctor will be able to work alongside any medical professional regardless of age, experience, or specialty.

Advocacy

Lastly, doctors should be experts at advocating to patients with options rather than giving them the end-all-be-all solution. Advocacy allows patients to discover all the different routes available to accomplish the root goal of gaining their health back. There is nothing more demoralizing when your own health feels completely out of your control. A good doctor will always advocate for a patient rather than be stern and straight to the point.

If you have any questions or concerns about your health, reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at 856-435-1777!

What To Know About At-Home DNA Testing

At-home DNA testing has become one of the most convenient ways to conduct a health screen. With health and time restraints in place at times, at-home DNA testing can be super helpful. At-home testing has drawbacks, however. Concerns regarding accuracy and functionality are always on the board when it comes to at-home health testing. Here is what top NJ cancer treatment centers think about at-home DNA testing and cancer detection.

What Are At-Home DNA Tests?

At-home DNA tests are tests that are sold directly to the consumer or patient that can be taken at home to help get an idea of what diseases you are at risk for. DNA tests analyze your genetic profile to determine your predisposition to diseases. This is an extremely powerful tool that can help prevent or catch diseases early in their life cycle. With at-home tests, a lot of the responsibility is shifted onto the consumer rather than the medical professional.

How Do At-Home DNA Tests Work?

In comparison to a DNA test done in a lab, at-home tests require the consumer to do a lot of the work. With lab testing, your test is performed by a medical professional, and results are sent to both parties. With at-home testing, the test is performed and interpreted by you. Some at-home DNA tests are guided by medical professionals over voice chat or have detailed instructions to follow. Both forms of testing aim to accomplish the same goal of early detection of diseases. At-home DNA tests are useful, but should not be your only form of risk prevention. At-home DNA tests can help determine a piece of your risk profile, but not the whole pie. It is important to still see medical professionals for other tests and prevention appointments.

What Can At-Home DNA Tests Tell You About Cancer?

Early detection can really change your journey toward beating cancer. With this being said, testing is extremely crucial before any symptoms occur. At-home DNA testing can show you a couple of things about your cancer risk profile. As of today, there is only one fully approved test that can report on different gene mutations that are leading predictors of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. As with all at-home tests, you should double-check the accuracy. When tests are conducted at home, there is more room for error in comparison to a lab. If you receive a negative result when taking an at-home test, it is important to investigate further and not take that as the only answer.

What Should You Do If The At-Home Test Reads Positive?

If an at-home test reads positive, it is important to consult with your doctor to interpret the results further and carry out the next steps. Usually, doctors will conduct their own tests to have a more conclusive result. After a more accurate series of tests, your doctor will determine if the results were correct or not. Based on that outcome, a team of medical professionals will determine if treatment needs to be done or further preventative measures. All in all, don’t let an at-home test be your only form of cancer detection and prevention. There are many lifestyle changes and other medical interventions that can help greatly.

If you have any questions or concerns about your cancer risk profile, reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at 856-435-1777!

What Is Immunotherapy?

Many therapies have been developed by research institutes and hospitals to treat cancer. The cancer stage and type heavily determine what therapies are available for you to use when fighting against cancer. One of the most innovative therapies that are commonly used is immunotherapy. Over the last couple of decades, immunotherapy advancements have become an amazing way to treat cancer. How does immunotherapy entirely work? Our medical oncologists in NJ explain how immunotherapy is used in cancer treatment.

What Is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that involves utilizing parts of a patient’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. The goal of immunotherapy is to boost the defenses of a person’s immune system by making it stronger or smarter in the ways it eliminates infected cells. Medical oncologists accomplish this goal by finding ways to boost the defenses or restore your immune system through different substances. Immunotherapy can be used as the main treatment for cancer or as a complementary treatment. There are many different types that serve a variety of purposes.

The Types Of Immunotherapy

There are many different types of immunotherapy treatments that are used to treat cancer. Checkpoint inhibitors are used to help the immune system to better recognize what cells are carriers of cancer. Chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CAR) involves taking T-cells from the patient, and mutating them with a virus that teaches the T-cells to attack tumor cells in the body. Cytokines are messenger proteins that stimulate immune cells to attack cancer cells. Cancer vaccines are available to act as a catalyst to start a body’s response against a particular type of cancer. Monoclonal antibodies are human made versions of immune system proteins that can attack specific parts of a cancer cell to stop it from spreading.

The Side Effects Of Immunotherapy

Like most treatments for cancer, there are side effects that come along with it. With immunotherapy, side effects can occur at any point during the treatment process. Immunotherapies may be taken short term and long term. The most common side effects occur where the injection side is. These side effects are skin rashes, swelling, itchiness, or general soreness. Flu-like symptoms can occur such as fever, general weakness, nausea, and trouble breathing. Your medical oncologist will work through your treatment plan to limit side effects as much as possible without jeopardizing the effectiveness of the immunotherapy.

Clinical Trials For Immunotherapies

Immunotherapy is one of the most researched forms of cancer treatment in the world today. Clinical research is still being done to create new immunotherapies that can further benefit patients with fewer side effects. If you or a loved one are interested in clinical trials for immunotherapies undergoing approval, you can reach out to the NCI’s contact center.

If you have any questions or concerns about immunotherapies, reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at 856-435-1777!

What To Know About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer that affect people around the world today. Fortunately, a lot of research and advancements are being done every day regarding breast cancer. More forms of testing and medicine are being developed that aid the control and treatment of breast cancer. Our medical oncologists in NJ detailed some important things to know when preventing and treating breast cancer.

Family History Isn’t The Only Indicator

A common misconception about breast cancer and other forms of cancer is how family history is viewed. Many people believe that if cancer doesn’t run in your family, you have nothing to worry about. There are many other indicators that can increase your risk for breast cancer that are not family-related. Some of the biggest risk factors are certain diets, lack of exercise, and certain medications.

Never Too Early For Breast Exams

There are many exams in the medical community that have bad stigmas about when to get them done. Some people choose to get certain exams at milestones like various ages. The best form of treatment for breast cancer is early detection. It is important to have breast exams routinely once you reach the age of 18. Mammograms should start as your age increases and should be routine at the age of 40. You shouldn’t wait for a breast exam either. It is important to be knowledgeable about your body and keep an eye out for noticeable differences.

All women in the world have varying body types. Some women have dense breasts which is a result of a different proportion of fat in comparison to tissue. Dense breasts require specific forms of screening in comparison to the traditional screening tests. Dense breasts make it more difficult to detect cancer and may require more follow-up testing. If you have dense breasts, it is important to be aware of this and not afraid of getting more in-depth tests conducted.

Certain Medications Increase Risk & Spread

Certain medications that are prescribed for other chronic illnesses and sicknesses can increase your risk of breast cancer. It is important to understand when you are taking a medicine that increases your risk and be mindful of how to monitor it. The best way to monitor is through screenings and blood testing. One of the most common medications that promote cancer growth is hormone replacement therapy medications, which increase estrogen levels.

Know What The Warning Signs Are

Breast cancer is an aggressive form of cancer that has many warning signs. Usually, one of the first breast cancer warning signs is rashes. These rashes quickly form into swelling, painful pockets located on your breasts. Medical professionals may often misdiagnose early breast cancer as a skin infection or tissue infection. If a rash doesn’t disappear after a few days of medical treatment, it is important to get checked out.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding breast cancer, reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at 856-393-5875!

Resources & Programs For Cancer Patients

The mental and physical journey to beat cancer can be a lot to take on. Between the various treatment plans and financial burdens, it can really be hard to focus on the goal at hand. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help cancer patients to allow them to focus on beating cancer rather than all the moving parts outside of that. Our medical oncologists and hematologists in NJ provided details of various programs that can help out you and your loved ones.

Finances

There are many resources that can help with restructuring and paying for different costs that come with cancer treatments. Many expenses like co-pays, transportation, home care, and child care can be offset by utilizing financial resources. The Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition (CFAC) is a group of organizations that offer financial help to cancer patients. Their website has a detailed database that can help find other financial resources as well. There are many databases out there that can help you locate financial resources. Financial resources such as Family Reach, Healthwell Foundation, and Triage Cancer focus on a wide range of expenses that can occur. There are other financial resources that specify are certain costs like the SamFund which helps provide grants and financial aid to adult cancer survivors that want to return to school.

Housing Accommodations

For many, housing accommodations may have to change due to the change of a person’s health or where the best treatment is located. There are resources available such as Hope Lodge, Joe’s House, and Ronald McDonald House Charities that focus on providing places to stay for you where you are receiving treatments. No one should have to relocate across the country due to a health condition. These resources are here to help. The Healthcare Hospitality Network is a database of organizations that not only help with housing accommodations elsewhere but can aid with housing renovations that might be needed due to a diagnosis.

Travel Accommodations

If housing accommodations are not feasible, there are resources to help with traveling to your treatment center. Mercy Medical Angels provide free or low-cost transportation for diagnosis and treatment appointments. Other resources such as Air Care Alliance and LifeLine Pilots provide low-cost or free air transportation across the country so you can ensure your loved one is receiving the best care possible.

If you have any questions regarding different resources or programs for cancer patients, reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at 856-267-0661!

Tips For Supporting A Loved One With Breast Cancer

A breast cancer diagnosis can not only be hard on the person facing it but the loved ones surrounding them as well. The support system of a person facing breast cancer is extremely crucial to have alongside for the journey of beating it. There are millions of breast cancer survivors around the world. Many of them had a combination of a strong support system, medical care, and lifestyle changes. Our South Jersey breast cancer treatment specialists provided some guidance on how to support your loved one while they live with breast cancer.

Visiting Your Loved One

The initial breast cancer diagnosis can be very troublesome and mentally draining. Early on, it is extremely important to show support by visiting your loved one and spending quality time with them. A lot of research shows that women with more social activity are more likely to go into remission than socially dormant women. Try to set up a way to regularly visit your loved one and be understanding of their situation. It is important to not force your way into their space but extend the offering.

Stay In Touch

If your loved one is not able to meet frequently due to appointments and other plans, make sure you utilize all channels of communication. Texting, calling, sending cards, and video chatting can be extremely beneficial. Check-ins with one another help a lot with coping with the mental aspects of breast cancer. As a piece of their support system, it is your job to listen and comfort them with any questions they might have.

Helping Out With Daily Tasks

When you are undergoing treatment for cancer, daily tasks can become difficult to stay on top of. Don’t be overbearing and do everything for the person, but make sure they know a helping hand is available. Always listen and see what concerns they are struggling with before just doing random household chores. Comfortability is extremely important.

Gift Giving

Gifts can be a wonderful way to uplift the spirits of a loved one with breast cancer. Gifts are a great way to express your love for them while providing something that offers immediate joy. Some great gift ideas are movies, books, blankets, homemade meals, and anything handcrafted.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding breast cancer treatment, reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at 856-319-4967!

How To Choose The Right Cancer Treatment Center

When you are diagnosed with a cancer-related illness, many thoughts will run through your mind. One of the first things that may come into you and your loved one’s heads is where you should go for treatment. It is important that you find the best cancer center in NJ to ensure that you are receiving the best care possible at all times. Here are some details and tips to follow when looking for a cancer treatment center.

Where To Start Looking?

Before you begin vetting each cancer center, you want to compile a list of possible candidates. As always, start with looking for referrals from trusted doctors, friends, and family. If you know people that have battled cancer before, ask about their experience. The cancer center that provided top-notch care for your peer may be able to work for your situation as well.

Credentials are important when coming up with potential cancer treatment centers. There are many research groups and organizations that review cancer treatment centers all over the world to rank them based on their quality and value. Some of the most popular accreditation are listed below:

  • National Accreditation Program For Breast Cancer
  • Accreditation by the Commission on Cancer
  • Accreditation by the American College of Surgeons
  • Accreditation by the American College of Radiology
  • NCI Accreditations

These are merely some of the more popular accreditations that cancer treatment centers may have. You and your family should look at national quality rankings and rewards as well. There are many popular sites like HealthGrades.com and Medicare.gov that have online directories dedicated to ranking cancer treatment centers around the country as well as listing out their accolades.

Lastly, it can be extremely helpful to find a comprehensive cancer treatment center that has multiple practices built under one roof. This can allow for a more detailed and unique approach to fighting cancer. Cancer is different for everyone from diagnosis to diagnosis. It can be extremely beneficial to have multiple practices able to collaborate for a treatment plan together. On top of this, take note of your cancer diagnosis. If you are diagnosed with a specific form of cancer like breast cancer, you may want to look for a specialty cancer treatment center that focuses strictly on breast cancer.

Narrowing Down The List

Once you and your family have narrowed down a cancer center list, it is time to narrow it down further through more vetting. There are a few things to consider. You want to meet with the doctors to ensure that you are comfortable working with them as well as happy with their resumes. You want to consider how the doctor’s team handles comprehensive treatment as well as aftercare. It can be helpful if a doctor is a part of a larger network of hospitals as well so supportive help is available with multiple locations in case certain actions need to be taken. Lastly, insurance acceptance is important as well. Check with your insurance company to ensure that the cancer treatment center you are choosing can be covered and feasible for your situation.

These are some of the key points to consider when finding the best cancer center in NJ for you. There are many resources available that can aid with the process. Various colleges, hospitals, and research groups have associations set up to connect patients with a doctor that works for their situation.

If you have any questions or concerns about what steps to take, reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at 856-435-1777!

 

What You Should Know About Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a serious form of cancer that affects older men each and every year. Among those affected, 60% of cases are in men over the age of 65. In 2019, it was estimated that 174,650 American men were diagnosed with some form of prostate cancer.

The prostate is located in a man’s lower abdomen and is a small gland that is associated with a man’s reproductive system. The prostate’s role in the reproductive system is adding fluid to sperm to make semen and aids as a muscle during sexual processes.

Prostate cancer is diagnosed when an abnormal growth of cells is present in the prostate. The abnormal growth that is considered a tumor leads to the diagnosis of prostate cancer. Like other forms of cancer, prostate cancer can spread throughout other areas of the body. As prostate cancer continues to be a top cause of cancer deaths in the United States, our New Jersey prostate cancer treatment experts discuss important things to know about prostate cancer.

The Causes & Factors of Prostate Cancer

Currently, there is no direct cause of prostate cancer. Similar to other forms of cancer, the cause can be connected to many different factors such as family genetics or exposure to dangerous substances. Whatever the factor may be, the catalyst starts abnormal cell mutations and growth in the prostate gland.

Prostate cancer can become a reality for any man, but certain risks do affect your chance of receiving a diagnosis. The leading risk factors include age, ethnicity, family history, obesity, genetic changes, and geographical location. Numerous studies exist about what factors affect the likelihood the most.

Types of Prostate Cancer

There are two main types of prostate cancer. These two types are distinguished by the speed of the growth in the prostate gland. Usually, prostate cancer grows within the tissue of the gland. The two forms of cancer are aggressive and non-aggressive. Aggressive refers to a fast speed of growth while non-aggressive is a lot slower or no growth at all. Aggressive prostate cancer, like any aggressive form of cancer, is the most concerning.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

Prostate cancer doesn’t always show symptoms unless it is in advanced stages. Symptoms of prostate cancer affect your urinary and sexual processes as well as pain and numbness throughout the body. Prostate cancer can cause people to frequently urinate, have a slow stream, or have blood in their urine. Erectile dysfunction may develop in someone who has prostate cancer. In advanced forms where prostate cancer is spreading, pain and numbness can occur in your pelvis, back, and chest. If you have any symptoms, it is important to get tested right away because as always, timing is everything with cancer treatment.

If you have any questions or concerns about prostate cancer, reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at 856-435-1777!

Surgeries in Cancer Treatment: A Brief History

The views and procedures of treating cancer through surgeries date back thousands of years where some of the greatest minds in medicine came together often to discuss their findings. Treatments of cancers through surgical procedures can be seen discussed in books from around the 2nd century where ancient physicians and surgeons like Galen and Celsus, wrote notes on the difficulties and findings they discovered while doing surgeries. Medicine and health in many ancient civilizations flourished, but cancer treatment progressed very slowly. Here are some milestones for surgical cancer treatments and how they paved the way for success for cancer treatment NJ specialists.

The surgical approach to cancer treatment during the early centuries faced many pitfalls. If a person was diagnosed with cancer, a lot of times it was viewed as incurable and the surgeries would do more harm than good. Mainly, this was due to ancient techniques and a lack of advancement in certain medicines. Many complications like blood loss would occur during surgeries in the ancient world. Major advancements in general and cancer surgery didn’t occur until about the 19th century.

The Discovery of Anesthesia

A major event that occurred during the 1800s was the discovery of anesthesia. Many world-renowned surgeons existed prior to anesthesia, but the availability of anesthesia allowed for surgical work to advance very rapidly in the 1800s. Due to this discovery, three main surgeons from around the world stood out for their findings and approaches to cancer surgery.

William Halsted, a top professor of surgery at John Hopkins University, developed the surgical procedure of radical mastectomy towards the end of the 1800s. This development is derived from the idea that cancer spreads outward based on its original growth. Radical mastectomy became the basis of cancer surgery for more than a century until clinical trials showed less extensive surgery can be just as effective in the 1970s. Today, radical mastectomies are no longer performed. A lot of these radical cancer surgeries developed were based on Halsted’s findings and Sampson Handley’s studies on the characteristics of cancer in London.

While Halsted and Handley were testing their own theories, another famous English surgeon, Stephen Paget, was releasing studies that detail how cancer can be spread through the bloodstream of patients. At the time, this was the first mention of this claim in the study of cancer. Paget’s claims proved to be revolutionary and provided a foundation for modern molecular biology which is used to treat cancer today.

Advancements in Technical Expertise

During the tail end of the 1900s, many surgeons refined their skills and developed great expertise in the minimization of tissue removal during cancer operations. The trend shifted away from large surgeries to more precise, detailed surgeries that minimized harm and maximized treatment for patients. A better understanding of the disease and improvements of technical instruments allowed for surgeries to achieve great results without large removals of tissue, bones, and more.

Development of Imaging Software

At the turn of the 21st century, imaging tests became more and more refined which allowed for a lot more information to be collected prior to surgeries and after. Imaging software and tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, PET scans, and much more replaced exploratory operations with solutions that allowed surgeons to have more information before determining the best course of treatment. Not only did it help with surgeries, but these advancements helped with cancer prevention and monitoring as well.

In today’s world, the future of cancer surgery is becoming more advanced than ever before. Technology continues to improve on the ability to remove cancer growths with the minimization of surgical trauma. Robotic surgery is being used for several types of cancer that have allowed surgeons to improve their abilities further. As technology and mechanics continue this trend up, surgical processes will only become more and more effective.

If you have any questions regarding cancer treatment and aftercare, please reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at 856-435-1777!

What Sets Us Apart – Meet Our Specialists

Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists is a specialty practice of some of the best hematologists in NJ as well as medical oncologists that offer patients complete assistance throughout their journey. Our integrative practices of hematology and oncology allow for our team to provide treatment plans that can be hard to come by from other cancer specialists in the area. Our experts understand the physical and mental battle that comes with facing bloodborne and cancerous illnesses. Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists are here to help you every step of the way.

Why Bring Hematology & Oncology Together?

Hematology and oncology form a strong relationship in the realm of medical specialties. Why is this? Hematology is the study of blood-related disorders and diseases. Oncology is the study of cancerous diseases and illnesses. A lot of overlap can occur between the two which in many cases lead to both experts in each specialty working together. What better way to offer a comprehensive solution to fighting cancer than having them under the same roof? There are many cancers such as leukemia and myeloma that are directly related to blood cell activity and require the assistance of a hematologist and an oncologist. Rather than seeing two separate practices, we decided to bring them together. Let’s meet our top-notch team.

Meet The Team

Our physician president and managing partner, Trina Poretta, joined the CCHS team in August of 2002. Trina’s thirty years of experience started when she received her bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg College in PA. Thereafter, she went on to graduate from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ in Stratford, NJ, and completed her fellowship at Cooper University Medical Center. Dr. Poretta is board certified in internal medicine, oncology, and hematology. In comparison to other specialists, she has more experience with renal neoplasms, resections, and blood disorders than most specialists in the area. On top of working with CCHS’s team, Trina is affiliated with medical facilities such as Jefferson Hospital of Cherry Hill and Washington Township.

Another crucial part of our managing partners is Richard Gordon of Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Gordon has amassed a longstanding medical career of over fifty years in hematology and oncology. His experience started while attending the American University in Washington, D.C. where he received his bachelor’s degree. From there, Richard continued his education at the Medical School of Osteopathic Medicine at Philadelphia College and completed his fellowship at Hahnemann Medical College & Hospital. Dr. Gordon is board certified in internal medicine, hematology, and medical oncology. Dr. Gordon’s fifty years of experience have led him to receive a lot of recognition as well as different affiliations. Currently, he is affiliated with Virtua Hospital of Marlton and Voorhees as well as Jefferson Hospital of Cherry Hill, Stratford, and Washington Township.

Lastly, the third person to complete our trio is our managing partner, Ruby Hanna, who brings over fifteen years of experience to the table in oncology. Dr. Hanna received her degrees in the medical field from the George Washington School of Medicine. Alongside working with Dr. Poretta and Dr. Gordon at CCHS, she has affiliations with Morristown Medical Center and Saint Clare’s Denville Hospital.

If you are interested in speaking with our team or making an appointment, reach out to Comprehensive Cancer & Hematology Specialists at 856-435-1777!