What to Expect
A diagnosis of cancer can feel overwhelming. We have an experienced, compassionate team ready to help you. At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) we view treatment as a collaborative effort, with the goal of turning cancer patients like you into survivors.
Personal Care Team
Every SCCA patient with leukemia has a personal team that includes an oncologist, nurse case manager, and team coordinator. Additional specialists, such as a social worker, physical therapist, nutritionist, or radiation oncologist, may be involved, if you need them.
Before your first visit, the team will have reviewed your pathology slides (tissue samples from any biopsies) and any scans or tests you have already had. If you do not live near one of SCCA’s facilities, we may ask your referring doctor to arrange for additional tests or scans so that these results are available before your appointment at SCCA.
Your First Visit
Where you are seen depends on the specifics of your acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and the treatment plan that you and your doctors choose. Your first visit may be to the SCCA outpatient clinic on Lake Union or one of our other clinic locations.
During your first visit to SCCA, you will meet with your doctor, who will ask you questions about your medical history and your current problem. This will be followed by a physical exam. Then you will sit down for a conference with your doctor and other members of your team to discuss a treatment plan.
This visit usually lasts one to two hours. We recommend that you bring a friend or family member with you to your appointment for emotional support and to help you keep track of the information your team will be giving you. If you have been referred to SCCA with a diagnosis of AML and your best treatment option is a clinical study, you may be sent to our inpatient unit at University of Washington Medical Center to begin care.
You may self-refer. To find out about making an appointment, call the Patient Intake Office at (206) 288-SCCA (7222).
All leukemias are not the same. The treatment that a friend or relative received may not be the best treatment for you. There are several types of leukemia, and treatment plans are different for each one. As the pace of medical breakthroughs accelerates, so does our ability to target therapies to your individual biology and the genetic signature of your disease. People seeking the most advanced treatments for leukemia will find a broad range of options available through SCCA. Your health care team will explain your options and recommend a treatment that is most likely to help you.
People with AML are often hospitalized for one to two weeks while receiving their first course of treatment (induction therapy). With the advent of less toxic therapies, particularly for older people, induction therapy can often be given in the outpatient setting. Currently, for example, SCCA patients over age 60 with untreated AML are treated as outpatients. And SCCA patients who do receive chemotherapy in the hospital are routinely discharged once their chemotherapy is complete. By contrast, the usual practice elsewhere is to keep patients in the hospital for 30 to 35 days after chemotherapy to allow their blood counts to recover. SCCA’s early-discharge program is safe and is often preferred by patients.
After treatment, you will need to visit your doctor on a regular basis to check your health. During these visits your doctor will give you a physical exam and may do tests to look for signs of cancer. Your doctor will talk with you about the follow-up schedule and steps towards health maintenance that are right for you. You may be referred to the SCCA Survivorship Clinic for follow-up to help maximize your overall health. If you had a bone marrow transplant, SCCA provides lifelong support through the Long-Term Follow-Up Program.