Knowledge is power: Suspicion of Cancer Clinic gives patients hope, answers
By Kristine Burnett
Sometimes, not knowing is the hardest part. For 55-year-old Carl Stanley, an East Valley resident who began experiencing heavier than normal bleeding after undergoing dental work in October, the search for answers led him to the Suspicion of Cancer Clinic at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert.
“My doctor ran some blood tests to try and figure out why I kept bleeding, and that’s when we discovered that my platelets were low,” Stanley says. “I was referred to Banner MD Anderson in February and saw Dr. Doshi on my first visit.”
Determining a cause
Division chief of Internal Medicine at Banner MD Anderson, Nikunj Doshi, D.O., heads up the center’s multidisciplinary Suspicion of Cancer Clinic. Guided by the belief that knowledge is power, he serves as a sort of screening specialist investigating and confirming whether cancer is the cause of a patient’s unexplained health issue or abnormality.
Those seen at the clinic include patients whose primary care physicians feel there is just cause for concern based on a physical exam or lab results. Patients may also self-refer to the clinic for worries about things like unexplained weight loss, lumps in their arms or chest, and more.
“If the initial workup shows there is in fact a malignancy, the patient is referred to one of our specialists,” Doshi explained. “If cancer cannot be confirmed, we’ll follow the patient for a period of time to keep a watchful eye.”
Team with a plan
Together, hematologists, oncologists, radiologists, surgeons and other cancer specialists devise and implement treatment plans tailored to the individual needs of each patient.
For Stanley, suspicion of cancer led to blood tests and bone surveys at Banner MD Anderson, where he now is under the care of hematologist Javier Munoz, MD for a type of blood cancer known as smoldering multiple myeloma.
“At this stage in the illness, there isn’t anything that can be done in terms of treatment,” Stanley says. “At some point, the cancer will flip and become a full-blown myeloma. That’s when we’ll start treatment. For now, we’re watching it and waiting.”
While waiting is never fun, at least Stanley understands what he’s dealing with and can take comfort in knowing he has a team of specialists ready to help him fight when the time is right.
“I know it sounds like a cliché, but I became part of the [Banner MD Anderson] family the minute I walked in the door,” Stanley says. “I’m amazed at what these people do for patients. Your fears and anxiety really mean something to them and you never feel like you’re alone.”
The Suspicion of Cancer Clinic sees patients 18 and up with appointments held Monday thru Thursday For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (480) 256-6444.