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Innovative Treatment Approaches in Community Oncology

March 9, 2023

As the price of drugs and hospital care continues to increase, some cancer specialists are choosing to relocate their oncology practice out of hospitals and into less expensive, more centralized community treatment centers. This article explores this new value-based patient care model and discusses the latest advancements in oncology treatments in community cancer centers.


What are some of the most common innovative treatments in community cancer centers?


Cancer results from the out-of-control proliferation of mutated cells. Targeted drug therapies work by inhibiting identified mutations, resulting in slower growth or death of the cancerous cell. As researchers identify previously unknown mutations in cancerous tissue, pharmaceutical companies develop new drugs to meet the demand.


Immunotherapy, on the other hand, is an advanced biological therapeutic approach to fighting cancer. Cancer cells develop protective mechanisms that prevent a patient’s autoimmune system from launching effective attacks. Immunotherapy tries to unblock the source of the inhibition and stimulate the immune system, allowing a compromised body to kill the cancerous cells.


How do these treatments compare to traditional treatments?


The future of oncology treatments looks brighter every day. For years, chemotherapy was the only tool available to practitioners. While this treatment kills cancer cells, it also kills non-cancerous cells and may damage surrounding tissue and organs. Chemo is still used, sometimes as a combination of two or more drugs with different pathways, enhancing the efficacy of the treatment.


Benefits of using community oncology treatments


Community cancer centers can respond more quickly to new advances than independent or university-associated hospitals. Community facilities are smaller and less burdened by bureaucracy than their bigger counterparts. They can quickly receive FDA approval to participate in a clinical trial and may offer the option to try a promising new drug months before a hospital can. That’s a huge difference for someone with fast-growing cancer.


Risks associated with community oncology treatments


All drugs have potential side effects that range from headaches to life-threatening blood clots. Patients enrolled in clinical trials may experience unreported adverse reactions because the medicine doesn’t have a large population of users. Patients need to discuss the risks and alternatives with their physician before deciding on a course of treatment.


Examples of successful community-based oncology practices?


Creating a community-based oncology practice close to residential neighborhoods is desirable. Here are some other recommended practices:

  • Improve patient communication
  • Increase genetic cancer screening
  • Provide all necessary services at one location
  • Provide expanded hours for office visits
  • Develop care teams with a designated coordinator
  • Provide a financial counselor
  • Integrate with a local hospital
  • Develop an innovative payment model
  • Collect data to measure progress, outcome and patient satisfaction

Best practices for implementing community-based oncology treatments


Oncology treatments may include a range of specialists who all have input into the treatment plan. Open communication is crucial within the team and with the patient and family members. The patient must understand the risks and the need to report any adverse side effects immediately. The need to adhere to the prescribed regimen cannot be over-emphasized.


How to prepare for community-based treatments?


The future of oncology treatments lies in the effectiveness of the procedures. The healthcare team must collect baseline data that is updated periodically during the process. The team must set clear goals and determine whether patients are open to participating in clinical trials or other innovative treatments. If surgery is an option, the team must ensure that the patient follows pre-and-post instructions to limit the risk of infection.


It’s difficult to predict future oncology treatment breakthroughs. However, whatever they are, you can be sure that community oncology centers will be on the cutting edge of new technology.