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UPMC CancerCenter Patient Frequently Asked Questions

UPMC CancerCenter provides the finest level of cancer care to patients throughout the tristate (Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia) region.

To schedule an appointment at UPMC CancerCenter:

  1. Contact your preferred doctor or location directly.
  2. Call 412-647-2811.

Our expert doctors. UPMC CancerCenter doctors are specialists in treating cancer. Many of them specialize in certain types of cancers. When you schedule an appointment at UPMC CancerCenter, you will see a doctor who specializes in your type of cancer.

Our cancer research. Our doctors are also involved in clinical trials and research. This means they're aware of the latest developments in cancer treatment.

Our team approach to cancer care. In addition to our expert doctors, UPMC CancerCenter offers services through social workers, nutritionists, pharmacists, and nurses. These members of your care team also have education and experience in the field of oncology to supplement your medical care.

The only time a second opinion for any type of medical care is not appropriate is in an emergency. With cancer care, it's always wise to seek a second opinion.

At UPMC CancerCenter, we have disease-site specialists who will evaluate your pathology reports and the tests and treatments you've already. They will then review your cancer treatment options at any point in the disease process. Your health insurance usually covers this second-opinion process.

Our staff at UPMC CancerCenter can assist you in that process. Call 412-647-2811 where our experienced oncology nurses and social workers can assist you or your family members in deciding which of our specialists would be most appropriate for you to see for a second opinion.

We can also:

  • Schedule your appointment for a second-opinion at UPMC CancerCenter.
  • Help you obtain the information you will need to bring to your appointment.
  • Answer any other questions you may have about UPMC CancerCenter treatment options, clinical trials, and procedures that may not be available in your community.

Our oncology nurses and social workers are happy to assist you in the second-opinion process Monday through Friday (except holidays), from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., by calling 412-647-2811.

You can find type-specific cancer information for some of the major cancers we treat at UPMC CancerCenter in the Cancer Information section.

Our patient educators also have basic cancer information, as well as topics related to the diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancers, such as:

  • What is cancer?
  • Definitions of cancer terms that may not be familiar to you or your family.
  • Coping with a cancer diagnosis.
  • Cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
  • Nutrition during cancer therapy.
  • Current research related to a specific cancer diagnosis.

We can mail this information to you, free-of-charge, by calling 412-647-2811.

Those with appointments at the UPMC CancerCenter Outpatient Clinic at the Hillman Cancer Center may want to visit the Patient and Family Education Center located on the ground floor of the William M. Cooper Pavilion near the elevators.

Complementary medicine is treatment you receive in addition to standard cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.

Examples of complementary medicine include:

  • Relaxation techniques during chemotherapy.
  • Music during cancer treatment.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Yoga or tai chi.

Alternative medicine is not the same as complementary medicine. Alternative medicine is treatment in place of chemo, radiation, or other standard cancer treatments. Alternative therapies are generally unproved, expensive, and may be harmful. You can buy many alternative therapies over the counter.

The Integrative Medicine Program at UPMC CancerCenter conducts research on complementary and alternative therapies for cancer. The clinical use of these therapies at UPMC CancerCenter provides data on various approaches to cancer prevention, treatment, and symptom management.

We strongly recommend that cancer patients discuss complementary or alternative therapies with their oncologist or doctor before beginning such treatments.

For more information on complementary or alternative medicine, contact UPMC CancerCenter patient education at 412-647-2811.

Search for active cancer-related support groups at UPMC CancerCenter and other UPMC locations in the Education/Support section of our website.

Our searchable database lists cancer support groups by geographic location, so you can find a group that meets closest to your home. These support groups may address a specific cancer — such as breast cancer — or be general in nature.

Our patient educators also have listings of cancer support groups that meet in the Pittsburgh area and information about national support groups. Call UPMC CancerCenter patient education at 412-647-2811.

Clinical trials — also called research studies — test new treatments in people with cancer to find better ways to treat the disease.

Clinical trials test new:

  • Cancer drugs.
  • Types of surgery for cancer.
  • Treatment methods, such as gene therapy.

The three phases of clinical trials:

  • Phase I clinical trials are the first step in testing a new treatment in humans. This first phase is where researchers are looking for a better way to help cancer patients.
  • Phase II trials decide whether the new treatment has an anticancer effect.
  • Phase III trials compare the new cancer treatment with the results of standard treatment.

You can use our searchable database to find currently active cancer clinical trials at UPMC CancerCenter and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) (joint effort).

Our patient educators also have summaries of all the current clinical trials conducted by UPMC/UPCI. They can send summaries of these studies directly to your doctor or to you to share with him or her. The educators can also search the National Cancer Institute's clinical trial database for research studies at other cancer centers across the country. Call UPMC CancerCenter patient education at 412-647-2811.

Each cancer research study has certain entry requirements for potential participants. To see if a patient qualifies, the doctor who serves as the study's principal investigator will look at how each patient who applies meets those requirements.

You can look at the eligibility criteria for each cancer research study in the UPMC/UPCI clinical trials database.

Make a gift to UPMC CancerCenter or UPCI or learn more about how to make a donation.

If you have any questions about donating, please contact:

UPMC CancerCenter/UPCI
412-623-4717
UPMC Cancer Pavilion, 1st Floor
5150 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15232