New Symptom Management and Supportive Care Clinic helps patients improve quality of life
Suzette Walker, F.N.P.-A.O.C.N.P., and Susan Urba, M.D., right, lead the Symptom Management & Supportive Care Clinic.
The Cancer Center recently launched the Symptom Management & Supportive Care Clinic to help improve patients' quality of life
by addressing the sometimes debilitating side effects of cancer care.
The clinic works in concert with the patients' oncologists to develop
a treatment plan to address common concerns such as chronic
pain, constipation, fatigue, nausea, swelling of arms or legs, anxiety
and depression. The clinic also works with patients with advanced
cancer who want to talk about changing the focus of their care.
The clinic is staffed by a multidisciplinary team of experts,
including a physician, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, dietitian and social workers. It also works to coordinate referrals for physical
therapy, occupational therapy, pain management, the sexual health
clinic, social work and integrative medicine, such as acupuncture.
"Cancer therapy can cause a number of symptoms that are often
complex," said Susan Urba, M.D., director of the clinic. "Our
oncologists are great at treating symptoms, but sometimes it can
be helpful to collaborate with a group whose clinic and resources
are dedicated to optimizing the management of these symptoms."
Medical care that addresses symptoms, rather than the disease
itself, is often called palliative care. However, Urba said, palliative
or supportive care is often mistaken for end-of-life care. All cancer
patients, regardless of the stage of their disease, should consider
supportive care to lessen the impact of symptoms and side effects.
Better symptom management may help patients get through
treatment more quickly by helping the body to stay strong. It also
may lead to better quality of life.