This month’s patient spotlight is Mr. Blansett.
Mr. Blansett has said that all of the physicians around the Fort Smith area are well connected and coordinate well with each other.
He and his wife moved to Fort Smith from Booneville after considering many other places including Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, and even Florida. They decided on Fort Smith due to the medical community.
Mr. Blansett says that coming here to Fort Smith Radiation Oncology is like visiting family and that professionalism is outstanding. Mr. Blansett knows a little about professionalism himself as a retired serviceman.
Thank you Mr. Blansett for your service to our country.
This year’s Spring Fling was held on Saturday May 21- Sunday May 22, 2011. There was a panel of area doctors that spoke about women’s health, including Dr Gast. The panel also took questions from the audience.
Dr. Kris Gast presented her History of Cancer Presentation to the audience during the Ask the Doctors segment. Children of Fort Smith Radiation Oncology employees dressed in different periods of time attire to represent the historical time line of cancer.
The Spring fling also included stars from ABC soap operas and the local news station affiliate.
When you talk with friends and family, they anxiously question, “What stage is your cancer?”
You start to feel like the stage and type of cancer are like a professional athletes stats. You had better know your numbers, or it will seem as if you don’t know what’s going on. Friends tell you stage four is the worst, and you find yourself praying for anything but a four.
What does stage mean, and how does your doctor determine the stage of your cancer? Please keep in mind staging is complicated even for doctors. We even have cheat sheets! It can also be extremely boring. That being said, let’s go over the how and why of staging.
After a patient’s cancer diagnosis is made, all of the information about the extent of the cancer is obtained. This includes physical exam, X-rays and lab tests. The majority of cancers are staged using the American Joint Commissions on Cancer Tumor Node Metastasis system, AJCC TNM for short.
Using the TNM system, your doctor first determines the extent of the initial cancer, hence the T (tumor). Next the nodes (N) are evaluated either by exam, x-ray or surgery.
If your cancer has spread to distant organs, then the M (metastasis) comes into play. When the T, N and M have been determined, your doctor looks at a table with different combinations of TNM to actually determine the stage of your cancer.
As an example, T2N0M0 in most cancers would place the cancer in a Stage II. Different combinations of T and N will yield different stages ranging from Stage I to Stage IV. Each cancer has unique descriptions for each T and N category. And to make matters even more challenging for your doctor, the system is updated and changed every year.
Now you are probably asking yourself why do we even bother?
Staging is a way to communicate between doctors. It also helps your doctor recommend the best treatment for you.
Using the stage, your doctor also can tell you the chance of your cancer returning or spreading. It may be tedious, but it is extremely important. You should know the stage of your cancer.
Next month, we will take a look at the question: Is cancer a disease of modern times?
Dr. Kris Gast is a Board Certified Radiation Oncologist who has been in practice 21 years, the last 13 years at Fort Smith Radiation Oncology. send questions about cancer to Cancer, PO Box 5710, Fort Smith, AR 72913 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Link to original article in Southwest Times Record: