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International Cancer Assessment Center

Conquest - Summer 2009

Removing Barriers for International, Domestic Patients

By David Berkowitz

When the International Cancer Assessment Center opened more than two years ago, its role was clear — complete cancer staging evaluations for patients who come to M. D. Anderson from other countries and refer them to the appropriate disease-site center for treatment.

“Recognizing that international patients face, and pose, unique challenges compared with domestic patients, our goal was to minimize or remove barriers for these patients so that we could provide the level of care for which M. D. Anderson is renowned,” says Daniel Epner, M.D., associate professor in the Department of General Oncology, who provides care in the ICAC.

The Fountain in Alkek Hospital

In 2008, 176 new international patients were seen in the ICAC, which is located on Floor 8 of Mays Clinic. The medical team emphasizes open communication with patients and family members — calling on Language Assistance and other resources from M. D. Anderson’s International Center — as goals of care and treatment plans are discussed.

While the ICAC continues to assist international patients, its role has evolved this year to also help selected domestic patients who are routed from one of M. D. Anderson’s care centers or via a community physician referral.

“For domestic patients that we are asked to see, we handle the medical and diagnostic work-up, particularly in cases where the diagnosis is unknown, inconclusive or requires additional study prior to treatment,” explains Martha Coleman, nurse manager and supervisor of patient access for the ICAC.

“We partner with some centers to evaluate selected patients who have a possible cancer diagnosis that needs to be evaluated fully prior to being referred to the appropriate multidisciplinary care center,” Coleman says. “An example is a patient with a history of breast cancer who now has an abdominal lesion that may or may not be related to her original diagnosis.”

Call 713-745-0450 to refer a patient to the International Center or to speak with Martha Coleman about the International Cancer Assessment Center.


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