Welcome to Hunterdon Hematology Oncology

Opening Hours : Monday to Friday - 7:30am to 5pm
  Contact : 908-788-6461

Chemotherapy Checklist

On your first day of treatment: 

  • It is suggested that you bring someone with you who can take notes and be supportive. Additionally you might want someone to drive you home the first time in case any of the medications used are sedating to you. Please note that we have limited space, so we ask that you bring  just one person.
  • We have blankets and pillows for your comfort; you may also bring your own. Treatment is given in a reclining chair; we also have two rooms with beds available to patients who are not feeling well, or have special needs or procedures. In the event that you feel you need a bed, please notify the nurse or scheduler to arrange for one.
  • Feel free to bring reading material, or laptops, for which we have free Wi-Fi access.
  • You may bring your own snacks or lunch (if your treatment requires several hours). There is a cafe in the lobby of the Medical Center where everything from drinks and snacks to hot meals are available. Within the cancer center, we provide coffee, tea, water, juices and crackers.
  • Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, you are encouraged to have breakfast and take your morning medications before your treatment.

Check in:

When you arrive, please check in with the receptionist who will take care of your co-payments (if required by your insurance company) and any other necessary paperwork, after which you may sit in the reception area until you are called.

You will be called in by one of the clinical staff members who will bring you to the lab area where your vital signs and any necessary blood samples will be be obtained.

You will then be taken to an exam room where you will meet with your doctor or one of the physician assistants to review the treatment plan for that day, go over your medications, and address any questions, concerns,or symptoms you may have.

Finally you will be escorted to the treatment area by your doctor who will go over the orders for your treatment with one of the chemotherapy nurses.

The chemotherapy nurses will tell you where to sit, and will go over how they will be administering your treatment to you,and what side-effects you may experience.The nurse will also explain any instructions for medications that have been prescribed for you to take at home, and anything else you may need to do after your treatment.

Medications:

The medications that will be prescribed for you can be easily obtained with our in-house pharmacy services. Our pharmacy staff will work with your insurance plan, and fill the prescriptions for you so they are ready before you leave. The pharmacy staff will also call in prescriptions and refills to a pharmacy of your choice if you prefer. For more information please call the medication line at 908.788.6434.

After your treatment:

Before you leave the cancer center, please stop at the desk with the discharge coordinators to schedule any follow-up appointments for further treatments, or doctor visits and/or lab tests. The discharge coordinators will also help you to schedule any other procedures (such as biopsies) or imaging tests (such as mammograms or CT scans) that your doctor may have ordered.

At Home:

Please follow the instructions that your doctor or the nurses have given you. If at any time you have a question or concern, please call the main number (908-788-6461) and someone will be able to help you. If it is after hours, or on a weekend or  holiday, the answering service will ensure that the doctor on call receives your message, and he will call you back.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms or a medical emergency, please call 911 and proceed to the nearest emergency center.

 


Symptom Management

Many people go through chemotherapy with little to no discomforting side effects. However, your doctor will work with you to eliminate or manage any symptoms you may experience due to your cancer or from side-effects of the chemotherapy treatment. Some symptoms will require medications which your doctor will prescribe, but there will be many simple things you can do for yourself such as drinking adequate water, resting if you feel tired, eating healthy foods – and trying to eat even when you don’t have an appetite. If you are feeling well enough, light exercise is also beneficial. Those actions will help your body to process and eliminate the toxic effects of the chemotherapy so that side-effects may be lessened. Some of the side-effects you may need help with are as follows:

  • Nauseousness –  Your doctor will prescribe medications for you to take, and give you instructions on when to take them. Our registered dietitian can help you to choose foods that will be gentle on your stomach and provide the nutrition you need. Some people find relief with using things such as ginger, acupuncture, or seasick bands.
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  • Constipation/Diarrhea – The doctor can prescribe medication to control this and the dietician can help you choose foods that will help to regain normal digestive function.
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  • Bone Marrow Suppression – Chemotherapy can temporarily suppress your bone marrow from producing a normal amount of blood cells. Your blood cell counts will be monitored regularly because of this. In time your normal cell production usually resumes. If your counts decline too low you may receive medication to stimulate bone marrow production, you may require a transfusion , and treatment may be postponed until your counts recover.
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  • If your white blood cell is low, your ability to fight infection is compromised.  We ask that you take care to avoid crowds and sick people (especially children), wash your hands often, and avoid eating raw foods – fruits and vegetables are best eaten washed and peeled , or cooked. If you develop a fever higher than 100.5 degrees, a sore throat or cough, or pain and redness at any surgical or catheter site, please call for an immediate appointment.
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  • If your red blood cell count is low you may feel tired and weak. It is best to avoid any strenuous activity until the count goes up. If you are experiencing light-headedness or shortness of breath during normal activities, call for an appointment. If you are passing out or have extreme shortness of breath, call 911.
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  • If your platelet count is low, you may have increased bruising or red/purple pinpoint dots on your skin. Report these symptoms to your doctor. If you have a cut or nosebleed that will not stop bleeding, go to your nearest emergency center.
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  • Other side effects that are possible with chemotherapy are: difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, neuropathy (numbness or tingling) in your hands or feet, and rashes. If you have any of these or other symptoms be sure to discuss it with your doctor.

The chemotherapy nurses are a great source of tips and practical measures that you can use to help with side-effects.


Chemotherapy and Normal Life

Many people are able to maintain their normal lifestyle during their chemotherapy treatments. Much of it depends on how you are feeling and the degree to which you are experiencing side-effects. Some of the things for you to consider and discuss with your doctor include:

Your ability to maintain your normal work schedule. We will try to schedule your treatments and other appointments so that the need to take time off from your job is minimized. If this is not possible, or you are not well enough to go to work, we will help you to file disability forms.

Your participation in your normal activities-  If you regularly participate in any sport or physical activity, please discuss it with your doctor, as physical exertion may not be appropriate, and exposure to germs may be a concern.

Travel – If you travel for business, or have a vacation planned, please discuss this with your doctor. Some chemotherapy regimes must be administered with specific timing and some treatments may cause side-effects that require monitoring.

Sexual relations/Family planning – Sexual relations may be affected by side-effects as well as hormonal shifts during chemotherapy. It is helpful to be open with your partner, and obtain information from your health care team.
Please note that chemotherapy is excreted in semen, vaginal secretions and urine. Barrier methods such as condoms should be used during this time.Double flush the toilet in case of pets or small children having contact with toilet water. Pregnancy must be avoided at this time. Furthermore, some chemotherapy drugs can affect future fertility. In this case, your doctor can provide information on sperm banking or egg preservation.

Emotional management – Undergoing cancer treatment can affect you on many levels from financial concerns to family relationships. It is important to have some kind of support whether it be from family, friends, co-workers or professional counselors. If you do not have a base of support, or feel that you are depressed,  please talk to your doctor so that he may make the appropriate recommendations or referrals. The staff of Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center includes a psycho-social clinical counselor as well as a financial counselor.


Chemotherapy

is the use of anticancer drugs designed to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells in the body. It may be used:

  • As a primary treatment to destroy cancer cells.
  • Before another treatment such as surgery to shrink a tumor.
  • After another treatment such as surgery to destroy any remaining cells.
  • To relieve symptoms such as pain in an advanced cancer.

Chemotherapy Delivery Methods:

  • Orally (by mouth in pill or liquid form)
  • Intravenously (by infusion into a vein)
  • Injection
  • Direct placement (via a lumbar puncture or device implanted under the scalp)

Other methods of cancer treatment include surgery to remove a tumor, and radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses radioactive energy to destroy cancer cells, shrink tumors and/or alleviate certain cancer-related symptoms.

If you need surgery your doctor will be able to make referrals to and coordinate your treatment with surgeons in the Hunterdon Medical Center as well as Fox Chase Cancer Center and other cancer treatment centers.

If you need radiation therapy, your doctor can coordinate your treatment with the Radiation Oncology Department within the Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center, as well as make referrals to other radiation treatment centers.

Blood Disorders

As specialists in blood (Hematology) disorders, our doctors can diagnose and treat various conditions such as Anemia, Thrombocytopenia (low platelets), Hemachromatosis (high iron) and Coagulapathy (clotting disorders). Treatments can include oral medications, injections, phlebotomy, and infusions.

Hunterdon Hematology Oncology is also an infusion center for providing intravenous treatment for diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and other auto-immune conditions. These treatments are given in conjunction with other doctors who specialize in the specific disease and order the treatment.


Breast Care

Hunterdon Regional Breast Care Program

Like many people, you may be concerned about your breast health, and how your wellness affects your family, loved ones and friends. We share your concern. Hunterdon Regional Breast Care Program (HRBCP) combines a comfortable, supportive environment with first-rate, comprehensive diagnostic and treatment resources… all conveniently close to home.

National Recognition for Breast Care

The HRBCP is accredited by the American College of Radiology as a nationally approved Mammography and Ultrasound Center. We are a member of the National Consortium of Breast Centers. Most recently The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), the only national accreditation program specifically for breast disease, awarded Hunterdon Medical Center’s Hunterdon Regional Breast Care Program Three-Year Full Accreditation.  The NAPBC is a consortium of national and professional organizations dedicated to quality of care and the improvement of outcomes for patients with diseases of the breast.

A Coordinated Approach to Breast Care

At HRBCP, we take a coordinated approach to breast care, for both well care and cancer care. A highly skilled team of breast specialists from different medical disciplines provides diagnostic testing, treatment, surgery, psychosocial support, education and rehabilitation. This team also collaborates with family practice physicians, gynecologists, radiologists, oncology specialists, plastic surgeons, pathologists and counselors to ensure that the care you receive is the most comprehensive it can be.

Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center is a full-time care partner, providing surgery, reconstruction alternatives, radiation and chemotherapy, support and counseling every step of the way.

The moment you enter the HRBCP – whether for education, screenings, diagnosis or treatment – you are under the care of experienced and qualified breast health professionals. What sets us apart? We combine this level of professional excellence with a true compassion for the patients we serve. HRBCP cares for all of you! A dedicated nurse coordinator experienced in breast health is your direct connection to the many services you may use; she will coordinate your appointments and keep you apprised of your progress.

Our Breast Care Services:

Dedicated Nurse Coordinator

A full-time, dedicated Nurse Coordinator experienced in breast health issues remains in contact with you, keeping you informed about test results. She serves as liaison if further treatment and evaluation are necessary coordinating appointments in an expeditious manner. She is there to hold your hand every step of the way.

Digital Mammography Services

A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray of the breast. It can detect a breast lump nearly two years before it can be felt. Digital mammography is the most advanced technology to date for detecting breast cancer. The digital mammography procedure is essentially the same as standard film mammography, but uses a computer and digital image instead of film. Digital mammograms allow the image to be acquired and displayed immediately, reducing the time that the patient must remain still. This expedited process provides the patient with a more convenient and comfortable mammogram.  In addition, a digital image can be enhanced and altered to be seen more clearly and to make a more accurate diagnosis. This image manipulation eliminates the need for a woman to repeat her mammogram if the first image is deemed unusable.

A routine mammogram is the main reason most women visit the Hunterdon Regional Breast Care Program. Screening mammograms evaluate breast health in women with no symptoms, and are used for those who seek routine breast evaluation. Diagnostic mammograms are used to diagnose breast disease in women with symptoms of a breast problem: dimpling, or a change in texture of the skin of the breast, a lump, or discharge from the nipple.

Digital mammograms are done at the Hunterdon Women’s Imaging Center located at the address below:

Hunterdon Women’s Imaging Center

121 Rte. 31
Flemington, NJ 08822
Scheduling:  908-782-4700
Fax: 908-782-0076

Ultrasound

The majority of lumps and abnormalities turn out to be benign, not cancerous. A way to determine if a lump is a benign cyst is to perform another imaging procedure called an ultrasound. Ultrasound works by sending high frequency sound waves into the breast. These sound waves produce a pattern of echoes that are changed into an image of the inside of the breast. Ultrasound is painless and can distinguish between tumors that are solid and those that are filled with fluid (cysts). It can also help radiologists evaluate lumps that can be felt but cannot be easily seen on a mammogram.

Stereotactic Biopsy

In this procedure, a computer-guided needle pinpoints a lump precisely, allowing removal of only the tissue needed for examination. A stereotactic biopsy is performed under local anesthesia, and usually takes between 30 minutes and one hour. Results of the relatively simple outpatient procedure are generally available within one working day.

Sentinel node biopsy

A procedure performed at the Hunterdon Regional Breast Care Program that determines whether any cancer cells are present in axillary (underarm area) lymph nodes is the sentinel node biopsy. The aim of the sentinel node biopsy is to identify the node that receives lymph drainage directly from the cancer area in the breast. This “node on watch” is identified when a tracer substance is injected into the area around the breast cancer, and the lymph flow carries it to the sentinel node. A small biopsy is then done on that node using local anesthesia. Only if the sentinel node is positive is more surgery required to remove that node and other lymph nodes tested.

Services specifically designed for women diagnosed with breast cancer include:

  • Surgery including sentinel lymph node dissection
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Outpatient chemotherapy suite
  • Outpatient radiation treatment services
  • Psychosocial counseling and rehabilitative services
  • Clinical research
  • Breast cancer support groups
  • Lymphedema program
  • Dietary consultation

Breast Surgery and Reconstruction

Care is coordinated with one of the board-certified surgical specialists at the Medical Center. With early detection, most women are candidates for a lumpectomy, where the surgeon removes only the lump and a margin of tissue around it, sparing the breast.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q) Who do I call if I’m having a medical emergency?

A) For all true medical emergencies, dial 911 or report to your nearest
Emergency Room. During normal business hours you may contact the office (908.788.6461) to speak with a nurse for general questions regarding symptom management or schedule a visit with a Doctor or Physician Assistant. (Luke C. Schlesier PA-C, Victoria Andrews PA-C, Christine Ying PA-C)

Q) Can I speak with a Doctor from the Cancer Center if the office is closed for a holiday or if it is after business hours?

A) Our practice always has a Physician on call. However, if you have a true medical
emergency, it is best for you to call 911 or report to your nearest Emergency Room. If
you have to report to the emergency room, the physicians there will notify our practice
appropriately.

Q) Once I schedule my first round of chemotherapy, is it considered a standing
appointment time?
A) No, you will need to check out with a discharge coordinator in order to book your treatments. (908.788.2354)

Q) Does the office have a policy for arriving late to your appointments?
A) We ask that you arrive on time for your appointments. If you are going to be late please call ahead and let us know. (908.788.6461)

Q) Now that I’m being seen frequently in the Cancer Center, can I have all my prescriptions refilled by the doctors there?

A) It is best to have the original prescribing physicians refill your medications.  We will gladly refill the prescriptions written by the doctors here at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology. You may contact our prescription line and leave detailed information on the voice mail. All prescription refills will be called to the pharmacy within 1 business day. Refills are not provided during the weekend. Many of your medications prescribed by the doctors at the Hunterdon Hematology Oncology can be obtained right in our office. (prescription line 908.788.6434)

Q) What is the practice’s policy on disability paperwork?

A) All paperwork will be completed within 5 business days. Please be specific with your needs. Remind staff of how you want the paperwork filed. (Do you want to pick it up/ Have it be faxed to the recipient/ Have it be mailed to your home)

Q) Are the Physicians and Physician Assistants easily accessible via telephone?

A) Our Physicians and Physician Assistants try very  hard to return all phone calls within normal business hours. However, if they personally are unable to return your call in a timely fashion, they will have a nurse call you back with information or to supply you with direction. It is our policy to return all patient phone calls the same business day to the very best of our ability.

Q: Is there a fee for meeting with the social worker?

A: No. Meeting with the social worker is a free service.

Q: How long does a psychosocial assessment take?

A: The assessment usually takes about 30 minutes; however, it can take less time or more time depending on the needs of the patient.

Q: What resources are available to cancer patients?

A: Some possible resources include, but are not limited to, transportation, financial assistance, support groups, educational programs, personal counseling, wellness and fitness referrals, relaxation techniques, wigs and similar accessories, and referrals to other organizations, such as the American Cancer Society.

Q: What do these resources cost?

A: It depends.  Some resources require a fee.  For example, a private counselor may charge a particular amount of money per session.  Other resources are free.  For example, support groups are usually free for cancer patients.

What is radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy uses targeted energy (e.g., X-rays, radioactive substances) to destroy cancer cells, shrink tumors, and/or alleviate certain cancer-related symptoms. It may be used:

  • As a primary treatment to destroy cancer cells
  • In combination with other treatments to stop the growth of cancer cells
  • Before another treatment to shrink a tumor
  • After another treatment to stop the growth of any remaining cancer cells
  • To relieve symptoms of advanced cancer

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Clinical Trials

Hunterdon Hematology Oncology is committed to bringing you new and innovative investigational cancer treatment options. One way we do this is by participating in cancer research trials and studies. A clinical trial is a controlled study in which patients participate in the assessment of a new treatment for a specific cancer. The trial treatment may involve a new way of combining existing treatment drugs, or the use of a newly developed drug. The trial will prove the effectiveness of the new treatment compared to existing treatments, as well as determine possible side-effects and ways to manage them. Benefits of a clinical trial include access to the most up-to-date research and drugs, particularly if the existing approved drug treatments are not proving to be effective for your type of cancer. Hunterdon Hematology Oncology’s association with Fox Chase Cancer Center enables us to participate in many of their clinical trials so that you may receive the clinical trial treatment without having to travel to Fox Chase. If it is warranted for your type and stage of cancer, and you wish to participate in a clinical trial that is not offered at our facility, your doctor can assist you in finding a clinical trial at another facility and make the appropriate referrals.

ClinicalTrialsGov

We are currently enrolling patients
for a clinical trial for Myeloma.

CLICK HERE.

Purpose

The objective of this study is to provide early access to daratumumab treatment and collect additional safety data while the medication is not commercially available for subjects with multiple myeloma who have received at least 3 prior lines of therapy including a proteasome inhibitor (PI) and an immunomodulatory agent (IMiD) or whose disease is double refractory to both a PI and an IMiD.

 

To learn more about a specific clinical trial,
please contact our Clinical Trial Coordinator
by dialing 908.237.2330 extension 2.