At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, we surround you with experts who focus completely on cancer. A handful of people make up the core of your care team. You will have a hematologist-oncologist and a registered nurse who specialize in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) — or the closely related condition small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), if this is your diagnosis. At some visits, you might see an advanced practice provider. Most patients get part of their treatment from infusion nurses. A patient care coordinator will schedule your visits.
Others join your team based on your personal needs. If you need a blood or marrow transplant, we have experts in this form of treatment. If you get a new health issue that might affect your cancer treatment, we call in the right experts. For example, if infections become a problem for you, we might call in an infectious disease doctor. We have specialists based at Fred Hutch who know how to handle the issues that matter for people with cancer.
Supportive care providers are also here to help. You may see Fred Hutch dietitians, physical therapists, psychologists, social workers and others. All of us specialize in caring for people during and after cancer.
What each team member does
Advanced practiced providers have training that is similar to doctors and can see you without your doctor. At Fred Hutch, these health care professionals work closely with your hematologist-oncologist in the clinic. There are two types: physician assistants (PAs) and advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs). They help provide and plan your treatment and also help manage the effects of your disease and treatment.
This doctor monitors your condition if you are on watchful waiting. They also manage any medicine-based treatments you have. Most people with CLL who need treatment get immunotherapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of these.
Your hematologist-oncologist will:
- See you during your first visit. They will give you an exam and order any tests you need to diagnose or stage your disease and understand how it is affecting your body.
- Explain what your diagnosis and stage mean and answer your questions.
- Recommend watchful waiting or medicines to match your exact needs. They choose the medicines, doses, schedule and sequence. They also talk with you about the benefits and risks.
- See you on a regular schedule to check how you are doing on watchful waiting or how your cancer responds to treatment.
- Offer you ways to prevent, relieve and deal with side effects of treatment, like medicine to help with nausea.
- Work with the rest of your care team if you need other types of treatment.
If you are getting any therapies by infusion, these treatments happen in a special area of the clinic. Cancer nurses who are experts in infusions give these treatments. They will also check you during each infusion. They respond to any medical issues that come up and help keep you comfortable.
Your patient care coordinator works closely with you and your doctor. They will schedule your appointments.
Your nurse manages your care alongside your doctor. They also help with procedures and treatments. Nurses are resources for you and your caregiver. They can answer questions on a wide range of topics, like how to cope with side effects or get other services you need at Fred Hutch.
Many types of supportive care team members are here to help you and your family. They include dietitians, physical therapists, pain medicine specialists, psychologists, social workers, spiritual health staff, palliative care specialists, naturopaths and acupuncturists.
If you need a blood or marrow transplant, you will have a specialized team from the Fred Hutchinson Blood and Marrow Transplant Program. Your team includes a transplant oncologist, advanced practice provider, transplant nurse, pharmacist, dietitian, team coordinator and social worker.
This team will:
- Give you an exam (and your donor, if you need one).
- Decide on a transplant approach to match your case.
- Prepare you and your caregiver.
- Do your transplant.
- Provide care as you recover.