Cancer Institute

Support Services

The right care, at the right time, at the right place.

We understand that fighting cancer can take every ounce of a patient’s physical strength and mental health. And we know that treatment is about much more than battling the disease; it’s about addressing the other challenges that arise along the way. That’s why our doctors, nurses and health-care professionals are committed to providing you and your family with the comfort, resources and support needed while receiving treatment and managing your recovery.
Our team ensures your care is seamless, as they help you navigate the treatment process – whether it’s at one of our hospitals, one of our outpatient cancer centers, your home, or an extended care facility. Beyond treating the cancer, we are here to ease your pain, boost your spirits, listen to your concerns, and strengthen your overall wellbeing.
 

Cancer Genetics

Most cancer is spontaneous, without any link to family history or genes. But in some cases, cancer is caused by an abnormal gene passed along from a parent. Because these genes are defective from birth, they have the potential to mutate early in life, triggering the development of cancer at younger-than-average ages.
 
For those who may be affected in this way, we offer specialized expertise in genetic testing and counseling. Our genetic counselors conduct in-depth interviews with you and provide options for preventive care, including lifestyle changes; more frequent screening examinations at earlier ages; prophylactic surgery to remove at-risk organs, such as breasts, ovaries, or colon; or medications to reduce the likelihood of developing breast cancer.
 
If you have any of the following, you might consider genetic testing for yourself:
 
  • Cancer of any type in more than one of your immediate relatives (mother, father, sister, brother)
  • Cancer in your family that is known to be linked to a single gene mutation (for instance, breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer)
  • Family members who developed cancer at a young age
  • Close relatives with rare cancers that are linked to hereditary cancer syndromes
  • A physical finding that is linked to hereditary cancer (such as many colon polyps)
  • A known genetic mutation in the family (from one or more family members who have already had genetic testing)
 
Talk with your family members about who has had cancer, where the cancer began in the body and what age the relative was when diagnosed. Also, complete a family history questionnaire and share it with a genetic counselor.
 
Contact our Cancer Genetics Program at 412.359.8064.
 

Cancer Registry

Best practice treatment guidelines, based on evidence from prior cancer patients, are invaluable to us as we treat new patients. They assist our specialists with determining the stage of various types of cancer and how best to treat it.

Cancer registries are crucial in determining these guidelines. They are complex databases maintained by accredited cancer programs like those at the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute. Our tumor registry collects demographic, diagnostic, treatment and outcome data on all patients diagnosed with or treated for cancer throughout our system. This data is analyzed internally by members of the medical and administrative staffs and externally by researchers.

The registry electronically transmits cancer data to the Pennsylvania Cancer Registry and to the National Cancer Data Base for epidemiologic and research purposes. It also annually follows up on all registered patients and updates the database with current disease status, quality of life, recurrence information and any subsequent treatment the patient received during the year.

This follow-up process continues throughout each patient’s lifetime and is critical in determining trends. Our tumor registries are accredited by the American College of Surgeons/Commission on Cancer.
 

Clinical Trials

Cancer Institute physicians and scientists continually research new treatments and cures that allow us to bring medical discoveries from the laboratory directly to our patients. These breakthroughs help to save lives because they evolve into more effective ways to treat cancer.

Our patients currently have access to more than 200 cancer clinical trials. We also participate in multiple drug and device trials and basic science translational research, including gene therapy.

For instance, we are active in the majority of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) major clinical trials. One of the most expansive is the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), an international research initiative coordinating the efforts of 5,000 medical professionals from around the world. Headquartered on the Allegheny General Hospital campus, the NSABP has significantly enhanced the understanding and treatment of breast and bowel cancers and has enrolled more than 110,000 women and men during its more than 50 years of existence.

Also, the Cancer Institute is the only health-care provider in Pittsburgh that belongs to the North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG), based at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. The NCCTG has now merged with the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG) and Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) to form the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology. Thousands of physicians within this consolidated group spearhead clinical trials in brain, breast, gastrointestinal and lung cancer; leukemia and lymphoma; novel therapeutics; geriatric oncology; quality of life research; and cancer prevention.

Our patients also have access to every National Cancer Institute Phase 3 clinical trial that establishes best standards of care for cancer treatments.

Cancer Institute physicians are involved in the following NCI-supported clinical trials groups:

  • NRG Oncology, which includes National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP), Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) and Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG)
  • Alliance Group, which includes American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG), Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) and North Central Cancer Treatment Group (NCCTG)
  • Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG)
  • Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG)
  • National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) – not NCI-supported
 

Several of the Cancer Institute’s physicians assume a leadership role in these organizations:

  • American Association for Physicists in Medicine (AAPM)
  • American Board of Radiology (ABR)
  • American Brachytherapy Society (ABS)
  • American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG)
  • American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
  • American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)
  • Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG)
  • Multidisciplinary International Rectal Cancer Society (MIRCS)
  • NCI’s Breast Oncology – Local Disease (BOLD) Task Force
  • National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP)
  • Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG)
  • Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO)
 

View a listing of our active Clinical Trials.

Diagnostic Radiology and Imaging

The expertise of our significantly experienced radiologists combined with our state-of-the-art imaging systems allow us to give you a fast and accurate diagnosis. Our advanced technology and equipment provide extremely clear and precise images while ensuring your safety and health.

Electronic Medical Records for Physicians and Patients

We utilize electronic medical records to seamlessly provide you with comprehensive care that is efficient and accurate. These records are digital versions of a doctor’s paper chart and contain your medical and treatment histories. They help us to navigate your care from any point in the Allegheny Health Network that you receive services.

Hospice 

When a cure for our patients is no longer possible, we provide hospice care for those nearing the end of life. We have a nurturing, compassionate and caring team of professionals who give comfort to terminally ill patients by minimizing their pain and creating a peaceful environment around them as they live their final days.

We also work closely with each patient’s family to offer caregiving support and emotional encouragement as they deal with the stress and sadness of losing their loved one.

Contact our Hospice Program at 1.800.381.8080.
 
Find out more about our Hospice locations and services.

Integrated Medicine

Our Integrated Medicine Program combines conventional medical treatment with complementary approaches such as acupuncture, relaxation therapies, yoga, tai chi, massage therapy, dietary supplements and nutritional counseling to maximize health and wellness and minimize disease.

To contact our Integrated Medicine Program in the Pittsburgh area, call 412.359.8336. For information and services in the Erie area, call 814.452.5000.

Nutrition

We have nutritionists at each of our hospitals to help you develop dietary plans specifically suited for your situation and needs.

Palliative Care and Pain Management

We have a multidisciplinary palliative care team that addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and families dealing with cancer. Unlike hospice – which is end-of-life care – palliative care aims to improve your quality of life as you battle the disease. We treat symptoms of cancer, such as pain and nausea, and also help you to cope mentally with having the disease.

We provide palliative care on both an inpatient and outpatient basis and can help families coordinate various support services for their loved ones.

Our team can help you with:

  • Counseling in treatment choices and decisions
  • Emotional and spiritual support
  • Pain and symptom management
  • Planning for post-hospital care at home or in an inpatient facility
  • Patient and family counseling
 
To contact our Palliative Care Program in the Pittsburgh area, call 412.359.3737.
For services and information on Palliative Care in the Erie area, call 813.452.5300.
 
Find out more about our Palliative care and services.
 

Pathology

We have a team of highly trained pathologists who examine patients’ cells or tissue under a microscope to provide you and your doctors with accurate and expedient diagnostic reports. These reports play an important role in cancer diagnosis and staging, which helps determine your treatment options. 

Social Work Services

Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, our social workers help you with any of your questions while you are under our care and following treatment. They also provide information about community programs and services and support groups.

To contact our Social Work Services in the Pittsburgh area call 412.359.4765.
To find service in the Erie area, call 814.866.1705, or in the Corry area, call 814.664.5811.
 

Support Groups and Services

Cancer takes a toll on both you and your family. Spending time with others who have a shared or similar experience can help with feelings of depression, frustration, anxiety, and the struggle of coming to terms with a whole new way of life. It can also help you significantly in your road to recovery.

You can find this type of fellowship at many support groups throughout the area. These groups help to boost your spirits, validate your feelings, and encourage your determination to recover.

View our schedule of support groups

Tumor Boards

At the Cancer Institute, we know that working together creates success. That’s why Cancer Institute doctors from many different specialties collaborate to determine how best to treat the cancer that is afflicting you. Our surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, radiologists and support staff attend weekly conferences to discuss patients’ cases and potential treatment options. Your doctor will collect input from the group of specialists and develop an all-compassing treatment plan that leads to the most positive outcome.  

24/7 Care Navigator

Being diagnosed with cancer is a shock to your whole wellbeing. You have probably felt scared, sad, anxious and even angry and alone. But then after taking time to let it all sink in, your sense of despair has taken a backseat to your new sense of hope. You’re ready to move forward and fight the cancer with everything you’ve got.

That’s because you know that doctors are treating cancer more effectively than ever. Millions of people who have been diagnosed with cancer have not only survived, but they have also gone on to live very healthy, active lives.

To help in your battle against cancer, Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute doctors develop a plan of action specifically for you and your needs. This plan includes many different factors that may seem like a lot for you to manage. But at this time – when you’re getting ready for the fight of your life – we’re not going to let you feel overwhelmed.

Our 24/7 Care Navigators will ensure that your load is lightened with every step you take on your journey forward. These highly trained navigators are efficient, effective professionals who help you to handle all of the details. And they also support you and your family through the emotional toll that a cancer diagnosis can have on all of you.

Every cancer patient is assigned a 24/7 Care Navigator who can:

  • Schedule your appointments and help you to coordinate your hospital and office visits
  • Verify that your records are at the appropriate doctor’s office before your appointments
  • Help you to understand your symptoms, treatments and results
  • Inform you about research studies and clinical trials that may be available to you
  • Assist with insurance and financial assistance
  • Recommend transportation options for your appointments, overnight accommodations for your caregivers, child-care services for your children, and cleaning services for your home
  • Provide you with directions to our hospitals and offices as well as inside the buildings
  • Ensure you meet with palliative care and integrative medicine to help manage any pain you experience
  • Connect you with a nutritionist, physician therapist or lymphedema treatment specialist
  • Help with your mental-health needs by connecting you with a psychiatrist/psychologist, support groups and a hospital chaplain
  • Direct you to a genetics counselor or social services representative
  • Offer you family support services to help your caregivers with their own health and emotional wellness
  • Talk with you about follow-up care details so you understand the process after you are discharged


Call a 24/7 Care Navigator any time of day or night.
1.855.NAV4U24 (1.855.628.4824)
Or e-mail navigator@AHN.org  
 

 

 

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