Swedish News Blog

Patient Education Classes at Swedish Cancer Institute

Brian Aylward, BS, CHES

Brian Aylward, BS, CHES
Health Education Specialist

I know how overwhelming it can be when someone is diagnosed with cancer. A wealth of information is presented to you and a lot of it can be hard to remember. Yes, resource packets are wonderful tools and information sheets are extremely useful but sometimes sifting through all of the documents can be cumbersome, especially when you have specific questions. For this reason, the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) wants to ensure that you have access to education and information in a way that works for you.

SCI offers education programs to assist you, your family members and your caregivers in making treatment decisions, managing your symptoms, and accessing programs to help your mind, body and spirit to heal.

One of the programs is patient education classes. These classes offer practical tips that you and your family members can take home with you. The classes are intended to complement your treatment here at Swedish but also provide an opportunity where you can ask questions in a safe and secure environment.

Whether you are interested in exploring how the healing powers of art-making can help during your experience with cancer treatment or learning how naturopathic medicine complements conventional cancer treatments (or maybe you want to gain skills and confidence in creating hair alternatives) – whatever the area of focus is, we have classes that fit your needs:

Swedish Cancer Institute Classes: Breathing for Stress Reduction and Yoga for Relaxation and Stress Relief

Brian Aylward, BS, CHES

Brian Aylward, BS, CHES
Health Education Specialist

If you are a patient, caregiver, family member, or friend – living with cancer can be stressful and often exhausting. Learning to manage stress and to relax the body can help you and your loved ones thrive through cancer. Yoga and deep breathing exercises are just two forms of stress relief that many individuals benefit from. The practice of these two exercises help to promote healing, while connecting the body, mind and spirit.

Here at the Swedish Cancer Institute, we offer yoga classes every quarter to help patients and family members undergoing treatment heal. Check out this quarters classes, Breathing for Stress Reduction and Yoga for Relaxation and Stress Relief to learn more about how yoga can improve your experience during cancer treatment:

What is the Utility of Serum Tumor Markers in Lung Cancer?

Howard L. (Jack) West, MD

Howard L. (Jack) West, MD
Medical Oncologist, Swedish Cancer Institute

Should serum tumor markers be used to guide treatment decisions for lung cancer?

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Does it make sense to use two or more drugs in second line therapy for lung cancer?

Howard L. (Jack) West, MD

Howard L. (Jack) West, MD
Medical Oncologist, Swedish Cancer Institute

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Deciding on surgical treatment for breast cancer

Patricia L. Dawson, MD, PhD, FACS

Patricia L. Dawson, MD, PhD, FACS
Breast Cancer Surgeon

A recent article in the Seattle Times references the 2012 Dartmouth Atlas Report: Improving Patient Decision-Making in Health Care. Unfortunately their take home line, "A new report that found wide geographical variation in the use of elective surgical procedures in Pacific states reflects the preferences of physicians – not what patients want or need, the authors say,” oversimplifies a complicated situation.

On my reading of the report, it stresses the values that an individual woman brings to the decision:

“Different women will prefer one option or the other, depending upon how much they value preserving their breast, their willingness to undergo radiation or more invasive surgery, and the level of uncertainty they are willing to live with in terms of their cancer recurring.”

As a breast surgeon who has practiced in Seattle for almost 40 years, I don’t believe that “the preferences of physicians” are the driving factor. I have a few observations to make.

It is clear that wide variations in treatment of early stage breast cancer can be seen across the USA, as the Dartmouth-Atlas data confirms. Some factors that influence this are physician related – for example, what % of their surgical practice involves treating women with breast cancer. Specialists in breast cancer or general surgeons who treat large numbers of women with breast cancer are motivated to be current in their practice patterns and to make sure that their patients are making considered decisions. The utilization of breast MRI has been shown to influence the mastectomy rates and there is regional variation in the use of that study. Distance to a radiation oncology treatment center is a factor for some women as are potential differences in out of pocket costs between mastectomy and breast conservation.

All of the local breast surgeons that I know strongly value shared decision making with their patients. We all work hard to present treatment options fairly and as neutrally as possible. If we have a patient that we think is choosing mastectomy over breast conservation out of fear – for example, fear of radiation therapy – we will encourage her to consult with a radiation oncology specialist prior to making a final decision. We believe that one of our roles is to help our patients make informed decisions. If there are clear medical reasons why one treatment is preferred, we will state that but otherwise encourage the patient to make the best decision for herself.

For example...

Two key questions to answer in a suspected cancer workup

Howard L. (Jack) West, MD

Howard L. (Jack) West, MD
Medical Oncologist, Swedish Cancer Institute

There are two questions to be answered if cancer is suspected:

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What patients should know about small cell lung cancer

Howard L. (Jack) West, MD

Howard L. (Jack) West, MD
Medical Oncologist, Swedish Cancer Institute

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