Who's on your case?

graphic to represent being surrounded by careworkers
Cancer Center teams are organized by tumor type to optimize expertise.

Quality care and the ideal patient experience

Our Cancer Center is one of only 41 in the United States to earn the National Cancer Institute's "Comprehensive" designation.

Learning to navigate your cancer care can be tricky, especially if you don’t have a medical background or prior experiences as a patient. The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is built on a foundation of comprehensive, integrated and interdisciplinary care. What does this mean and, more importantly, who are these caregivers? Here's a look at some of the many members of the team engaged in your care at the Cancer Center, as well as some things that happen behind the scenes.

Patient Guide Volunteers

Meet with first-time patients to help with wayfinding, completing forms, emotional support and telling you about resources to help you.

Clerks

Check you in and out of appointments, schedule appointments, provide insurance coverage tips and much more. If you're unsure, ask a clerk!

Medical Assistants

Take your vital signs, walk you back to your exam room, gather information on your health and communicate with other providers on your health care team.

Nurses

Provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, triage patient calls and provide advice and emotional support to patients and family members.

Nurse Practitioners

A registered nurse with an advanced degree, NPs may diagnose and treat illness as part of your health care team. They may order, perform or interpret diagnostic tests such as lab work and X-rays, and may prescribe certain medications. <

Physician Assistants

Practice medicine under the direction of physicians and surgeons. PAs are formally trained to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses, and provide treatment.

Registered Dietitians

Assess your individual dietary needs and provide practical, scientifically sound recommendations to optimize the food you eat.

Genetic Counselors

Highly trained to screen patients and families for inherited cancers and counsel them on options to reduce risk. Work in partnership with specialists in cancers with a genetic component.

Radiology Caregivers

A huge team of physicians and technicians who create images through scans and examinations that answer the questions your health care provider is asking, such as whether the tumor is growing or shrinking.

Tumor Board

Behind-the-scenes meeting where a large team of multidisciplinary oncologists and caregivers gather to review and discuss complex cases and develop a consensus opinion on treatment.

PsychOncology

A multidisciplinary team that aims to relieve negative social and psychological effects of cancer through social work, art therapy, creative writing, guided imagery, music therapy, legacy work and more.

Symptom Management

Yet another multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses and other caregivers devoted to maintaining independence of patients and increasing comfort by managing symptoms and side effects of cancer and its treatment.

Practical Assistance Center

Brings several services in a single location to help with practical matters such as social work resources, financial assistance for meals, lodging, transportation, community resources, help with aid applications and more.

Financial Counselors

Advise patients on insurance coverage and resources available for medical expenses.

Oncologists

Another word for cancer doctors. There are three kinds.

  • 1. medical, those who prescribe and manage chemotherapy, hormone therapy and other types of medications
  • 2. surgical, those who perform operations to investigate or remove your cancer
  • 3. radiation, those who understand and design the best ways to deliver radiation therapy as a form of treatment

Pharmacists

Dispense prescription medications and counsel on safe use. Evaluate potential for drug interactions among multiple medications.

Research Nurses

Monitor patients enrolled in clinical trials, explain trial protocols and serve as point of contact for clinical trial-related questions.

Pathologists

Study your cancer (blood, tissue samples, etc.) under the microscope and prepare reports with your results.

Phlebotomists

Draw samples of your blood for study.

Learn more:

Visit our comprehensive list of cancer providers and who treats what cancers: Healthcare Professionals.

Check out the National Cancer Institute's dictionary of cancer terms.

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Thrive Issue: 
Winter, 2013