Frequently Asked Questions
Before contacting us, scroll our Frequently Asked Questions
- What can the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center offer to patients that they may not find elsewhere?
- How can I find out more about The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center?
- How do I make an appointment with a specialist at The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center?
- What is meant by a specialty clinic or multidisciplinary team?
- Will I have to wait a long time to get an appointment?
- All of my medical records are available to send to Michigan. Do I still have to make an appointment for a second opinion?
- What type of treatments do you offer?
- Does the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have any clinical trials available for my type of cancer?
- How do I know if I should get a second opinion?
- Will my insurance pay for a second opinion or treatment at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center?
- How long will my appointment take?
- Can I have the treatment you recommend done in my hometown?
- I've just been diagnosed with cancer and I'm feeling overwhelmed. I don't even really know what questions to ask - any advice?
- Is there any way to reduce my risk for developing cancer?
- Who is the best doctor at the Comprehensive Cancer Center for my cancer?
What can the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center offer to patients that they may not find elsewhere?
There are several benefits, including:
- The resources of a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. This is important to you because it means the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has passed a national review that documents its excellence in all areas of patient care, research, education, and public information. There are only 41 centers in the country with this distinction.
- Top quality care from one of 21 premier centers in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, who work together to develop national treatment guidelines to ensure the delivery of consistent, high quality, cost effective cancer care.
- Over 300 clinicians and researchers who provide expertise in virtually all types of cancer in 24 specialized and multidisciplinary Cancer Care Clinics.
- State-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment including new therapies that may not yet be available in your community.
- Everything you might need for your recovery: diagnosis, treatment, psychosocial support, pain management, rehabilitation, and assistance in returning to your life after cancer.
- The reassurance of knowing that the U-M Cancer Center consistently ranks in the top ten on the US News & World Report’s list of “Top Hospitals for Cancer.”
Contact our Cancer AnswerLine™. Cancer AnswerLine™, a free community service of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, is staffed by experienced registered oncology nurses who combine knowledge and compassion to provide personalized answers to your questions. Cancer AnswerLine™ nurses welcome inquiries from patients, family members and/or health care professionals about the unique diagnostic and treatment resources at the U-M Cancer Center. Our Registered Nurses offer information on the entire spectrum of cancer issues – prevention, risk reduction, warning signs, detection methods, treatment options, support services, clinical trials and assistance in arranging appointments and/or provide guidance to the appropriate resources. Brochures and other materials are sent upon request. The service is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET
The nurses can be reached toll-free at 1-800-865-1125 or by email through the Cancer AnswerLine™ Communication Form.
How do I make an appointment with a specialist at The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center?
For assistance in deciding whom to contact and what the first step should be, we invite you to contact the Cancer AnswerLine™. The type and stage of cancer, prior treatment and a number of other factors determine which specialists and clinics are most appropriate for a patient’s current situation. For this reason, it is often best to speak directly with a Cancer AnswerLine™ nurse at (1-800-865-1125).
Patients are scheduled in one of the specialty or multidisciplinary cancer care clinics based a number of factors such as the type of service needed-diagnostic, initial treatment planning, the type and stage of cancer age-adult or pediatric cancer, etc.
A multidisciplinary team consists of cancer specialists from diverse disciplines including surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, radiology, pathology, and for some diagnoses, other subspecialties. Teams also include health professionals such as nurses, social workers, physical therapists, registered dietitians and pharmacists. The goal is to provide thorough, accurate, and prompt evaluation for patients as early as possible following the diagnosis of cancer. One or more of the team physicians evaluates each patient. The team then comes together to discuss individual patient needs and develop a personalized treatment plan that takes into account all aspects of care - everything from prescribing the most appropriate tests or therapies to addressing educational needs and emotional concerns. The plan is then discussed with the patient, who is able to make informed choices about the preferred course of care.
There are many patient situations which do not require the expertise of the entire team, and the most appropriate care is provided through a specialty clinic. Referrals are made to other specialists if needed.
The wait time for an appointment will vary from clinic to clinic; however, every effort is made for the patient to be seen within one to two weeks. For extremely urgent problems, an earlier appointment may be arranged by your doctor through our Physician Consultation and Referral Service, M-LINE 1-800-962-3555.
All of my medical records are available to send to Michigan. Do I still have to make an appointment for a second opinion?
Yes, you will have to schedule an appointment at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and travel to Ann Arbor Michigan for your appointment. Our specialty physicians will need to see your medical records, pathology slides, x-rays/imaging studies and other tests, but will also want to evaluate you in person.
A wide range of state-of-the-art treatment options are available in the form of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, or combinations of these and other therapies. Our patients have access to the highest quality treatments, often before they are available elsewhere. If you have questions about, or wonder if the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center offers a certain diagnostic test or specific cancer treatment, please contact the Cancer AnswerLine™ directly to have your questions answered.
Does the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have any clinical trials available for my type of cancer?
Clinical Trials are one very important reason that the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is able to offer our patients access to the latest cancer treatments. UMCCC has, at any given time, about 150 clinical trials or research studies in progress. Each trial has specific criteria for participation based on type and state of disease. In many cases standard treatment has been found to produce excellent outcomes. When you are evaluated in our cancer clinic, your physician will discuss with you clinical trials that are most appropriate for your diagnosis and condition.
Please visit UMClinicalStudies.org for a list of clinical trials related to cancer.
Seeking a second opinion is a personal choice. There are several important reasons to consider another opinion, however the main reason most patients seek a second opinion is reassurance that the first opinion is correct, and that all treatment options have been explored. A National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center or a major teaching facility offers the advantage of specialized physicians, state-of-the-art technology, and new investigational therapies that may not be available in community hospitals.
Will my insurance pay for a second opinion or treatment at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center?
Many insurance companies pay for second opinions. Your best source of information about your specific coverage is the insurance company that issued your health insurance policy or your employer's benefit office (if you are covered under a group policy through work). For additional information regarding insurance coverage and your visit, see the Cancer Center's Financial Planning and Counseling website.
First visits and second opinion appointments usually take 2-6 hours. The time varies from clinic to clinic, and from patient to patient. Please feel free to ask the clinic staff person when scheduling your appointment. Except in emergency situations, you should not expect to be admitted to the hospital on the day of your first visit. You may already have had many medical tests. Your UMCCC physician will review your previous test results, and may use them and/or may order new tests. We occasionally need to schedule follow-up x-rays, laboratory studies, or biopsies. If so, these studies will be discussed with you at the time of your visit.
Most cancer treatment takes place in outpatient facilities and does not require overnight hospital stays. The amount of time you will need to stay varies from person to person. Your doctor will give you more specific information based on your individual treatment plan.
See The UMHS Patient Visitor Guide for more information on Getting Here, What to Bring, Accommodations etc.
Whenever possible, cancer patients should be able to receive cancer care close to their home. Depending on the circumstances, most patients can be managed successfully at the community level. In many instances, patients receive part of their care at UMCCC and other therapy from their private physicians in medical facilities close to where they live. The University of Michigan has joined forces with a group of community hospitals and physician practices to enhance patient care. See the University of Michigan Cancer Center Network and University of Michigan Radiation Oncology Network Off Campus facilities web pages for more information about locations, physicians and specialty services provided.
Your primary care and/or referring physician is an important partner in your care and will provide health history and insight about your situation that are vital in the cancer treatment planning process. Communication between your private physician and UMCCC staff are important before, during and following cancer therapy.
I've just been diagnosed with cancer and I'm feeling overwhelmed. I don't even really know what questions to ask - any advice?
The following steps are suggested to help you focus your thoughts and actions to make the best informed decisions for yourself:
- Find a cancer specialist
If you don't already have a cancer specialist, or would like to get a second opinion, contact the Cancer AnswerLine™ for a UMCCC referral. You may wish to ask your family doctor for a referral, ask friends and family members for names of cancer specialists in your area. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) can provide information on designated Cancer Centers and The American Cancer Society also offers referral assistance.
- Learn all you can
Knowledge is your greatest asset when you must make decisions about your treatment. Ask questions of your doctors and other health care professionals, read, seeking out educational programs such as the I Can Cope series, and talk to others who have had cancer.
- Take care of yourself
Continue to eat a healthful diet, exercise, keep your social contacts and activities.
- Join a support group
Many cancer patient support groups exist. They can be an excellent source of information and emotional support. For a listing of University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center support groups visit our Support Groups page.
- Talk honestly with your loved ones
Your family and friends don’t always know what to do or say. You can help them support you by being honest with them. Many support groups and much literature also exist that can help them understand their roles. If you would like to have cancer coping information mailed to you, we invite you to contact Cancer AnswerLine™ by phone 800-865-1125 or email.
Research shows that certain risk factors can increase the chance that a person will develop cancer. The most common risk factors for cancer are:
- Sunlight exposure
- Ionizing radiation
- Certain chemicals and other substances
- Some viruses and bacteria
- Certain hormones
- Family history of cancer
- Alcohol consumption
- Poor diet, lack of physical activity, or being overweight
Many of these risk factors can be avoided. Others, such as family history, cannot be avoided. People can help protect themselves by staying away from known risk factors whenever possible.
If you think you may be at risk for cancer, you should discuss your concerns with your doctor. You may want to ask your physician about reducing your personal risk and a schedule for checkups.
See The National Cancer Institute's Cancer Causes and Risk Factors more information about cancer risk.
Source: The National Cancer Institute
Our center has over 300 faculty members who specialize in virtually all types of cancers. Our center also has a number of multidisciplinary clinics to treat patients. This is a unique approach that brings specialists from many areas together in one location so that a patient can receive all the expert treatment recommendations in one visit without having to make a number of time-consuming appointments. This group approach also provides the best treatment advice for the patient because decisions are made jointly by all of the specialists.