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An Oncologist’s Perspective on Human-Focused Care


March 04, 2021 Posted in: Blogs , English

Our team at the Baylor College of Medicine Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center cares more about saving lives than national recognition. Maybe that’s why we’re nationally recognized.

As one of only three NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Texas, we combine proven therapies with innovative new research to bring individualized care to the people we serve. Dr. Atif Iqbal, Colorectal Surgeon at Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, sat down to discuss how this nationally-ranked program provides personalized, interdisciplinary care in a unique way that addresses the humanity of each patient.

Individualized Treatment Plans for Cancer Patients

"We discuss each patient in our tumor board conferences that include all these different physicians: colorectal surgeons, medical oncology, radiology, radiation oncology, pathology, everybody in a room talking about these patients, but the team is concise. We can get together, we can do things in a multidisciplinary fashion, in a much more organized way than much bigger institutions can," Dr. Iqbal explained.

"Our team has some of the best expertise in the country, but it isn’t enormous. So, we can individualize. We are proud that we can individualize patient care, and that has been shown to be the best way to treat cancer patients, because a cookie cutter approach does not work. All patients are not the same, and all cancers, even though they may be of the same type, are not the same. And the response of each cancer to the same treatment is different. So, each patient needs, and their treatment needs, to be individualized."

A Patient-Focused Approach Eliminates Barriers to Care

"More importantly, it’s much easier for the patient," he shared. "For example, if I am seeing a patient who typically would need medication and chemotherapy, then I have combined clinics with the medical team, and we can have the patient come on the same day one combined clinic visit. It’s easier for the patient, it’s one big umbrella under which the patient can see all these different disciplines and get immediate advice on what we think is best, and then, we can still present their case in our multidisciplinary tumor boards and get together and finalize the plan and get it enacted before, I would argue, other bigger centers would have even seen the full picture."

For any condition, the healthcare system can be difficult to navigate. The stressors of having cancer, however, can make that many times more difficult. As Dr. Iqbal describes, helping patients manage the fear and anxiety around a cancer diagnosis requires more than just the best care and skill — it requires relating to them honestly and earnestly.

A Team Dedicated to Humanity in Cancer Care

"My role is to firstly, emphasize to the patient that it’s OK to be scared, it’s OK to be anxious. My role is to always be truthful with them, to always treat them like family and provide them the best care that I would want my family members to get," he shared.

"Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is one of the best in the country. We have rankings to support that claim. I reiterate to my patients that some of the best surgeons and physicians and staff in the healthcare industry are going to be taking care of them. You add that skill to the fact that we really care, and we would, and we aim to treat you like family. That makes a big difference."

If you or someone you know faces a cancer diagnosis or is at increased risk for developing cancer, reach out to our specialists today. With nationally ranked cancer care, leading research, and innovative treatment options, our team at the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center combines precision medicine with compassion. That’s humanity in cancer care.

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