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Frequently Asked Questions

Before contacting the Cancer Answerline™, scroll our Frequently Asked Questions



What can the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center offer to patients that they may not find elsewhere?

The resources of a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. This is important to you because it means the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has passed a national review that documents its excellence in cancer research, education, and public information. Only 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the country have earned this distinction.

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Can I have the treatment you recommend done in my hometown?

Whenever possible, cancer patients should be able to receive cancer care close to their home. Depending on the circumstances, most patients can be managed successfully at the community level. In many instances, patients receive part of their care at our Cancer Center and other therapy from their private doctors in medical facilities close to where they live. UMHS Partnerships & Affiliations enables U-M to join forces with community hospitals and physician practices to enhance patient care. Our Radiation Oncology Network has partnered with 7 centers throughout the state to bring breakthrough cancer treatments to patients as conveniently as possible.

Your primary care or referring doctor is an important partner in your care and will provide health history and insight about your situation that are vital in the cancer treatment planning process. Communication between your private doctor and Cancer Center staff are important before, during and following cancer therapy.

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How can I find out more about The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Contact the Cancer AnswerLine™. This free community service of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is staffed by experienced registered oncology nurses who combine knowledge and compassion to provide personalized answers to your questions. Cancer AnswerLine™ nurses welcome inquiries from patients, family members or health care professionals about the unique diagnostic and treatment resources at the U-M Cancer Center.

The nurses can be reached toll-free at 1-800-865-1125 or by email through the Cancer AnswerLine™ Communication Form.

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How do I make an appointment with a specialist at The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center?

For assistance in getting that first appointment, we invite you to contact the Cancer AnswerLine™. The type and stage of cancer, prior treatment and a number of other factors determine which specialists and clinics are most appropriate for a patient's current situation. For this reason, it is often best to speak directly with a Cancer AnswerLine™ nurse at 1-800-865-1125.

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What is meant by a specialty clinic or multidisciplinary team?

Patients are scheduled in one of the specialty or multidisciplinary cancer care clinics based on a number of factors, such as the type of service needed (diagnostic, initial treatment planning), the type and stage of cancer, and the patient's age (adult or child).

A multidisciplinary team consists of cancer specialists from diverse disciplines including surgery, medical oncology, radiation oncology, radiology and pathology.

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Will I have to wait a long time to get an appointment?

The wait time for an appointment will vary from clinic to clinic; however, every effort is made for the patient to be seen within 1-2 weeks. For extremely urgent problems, an earlier appointment may be arranged by your doctor through our Physician Consultation and Referral Service, M-LINE, have your doctor call 1-800-962-3555.

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How long will my appointment take?

First visits and second opinion appointments usually take between 2-6 hours. The time varies from clinic to clinic, and from patient to patient. Please feel free to ask the clinic staff when scheduling your appointment.

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All of my medical records are available to send to Michigan. Do I still have to make an appointment for a second opinion?

Yes, you will have to schedule an appointment at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center and travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., for your appointment. Our specialty doctors will need to see your medical records, pathology slides, X-rays/imaging studies and other tests, but will also want to evaluate you in person.

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What type of treatments do you offer?

A wide range of state-of-the-art treatment options are available in the form of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, or clinical trials. Our patients have access to the highest quality treatments, often before they are available elsewhere. If you have questions about, or wonder if the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center offers a certain diagnostic test or specific cancer treatment, please contact the Cancer AnswerLine™ directly to have your questions answered.

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Does the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have any clinical trials available for my type of cancer?

Clinical trials are one very important reason that the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center is able to offer our patients access to the latest cancer treatments. The Cancer Center has, at any given time, about 150 clinical trials or research studies in progress. Each trial has specific criteria for participation based on type and state of disease. Note that, in many cases, standard treatments have been found to produce excellent outcomes, and participation in a clinical trial may not be called for. When you are evaluated in our cancer clinic, your doctor will discuss with you whether a clinical trial might be appropriate for your diagnosis and condition.

Please visit our Find a Clinical Trial web page for a list of clinical trials related to cancer.

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How do I know if I should get a second opinion?

Seeking a second opinion is a personal choice. There are several important reasons to consider another opinion; however, the main reason most patients seek a second opinion is reassurance that the first opinion is correct, and that all treatment options have been explored. A National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center or a major teaching facility such as the University of Michigan offers the advantage of specialized doctors, state-of-the-art technology, and new investigational therapies that may not be available in community hospitals.

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Will my insurance pay for a second opinion or treatment at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center?

Many insurance companies pay for second opinions. Your best source of information about your specific coverage is the insurance company that issued your health insurance policy or your employer's benefits office (if you are covered under a group policy through work). For additional information regarding insurance coverage and your visit, see the Cancer Center's Financial Assistance or visit UMHS Insurance.

Do I need a referral from my physician? You will need an insurance referral if you have Managed Care insurance. Your Primary Care Physician (PCP) will be able to provide that referral for you. If you are uncertain whether you need an insurance referral, you should call the number on the back of your insurance card and speak to a representative. If you do not have Managed Care Insurance, U-M CCC is able to accept referrals from patients and referring physicians..

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Are there interpreters available?

The University of Michigan Health System Interpreter Services provides medical interpreters for deaf/Hard of Hearing and Limited English Proficient (LEP) patients each. We have interpreters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 40+ languages, and deaf and hard-of-hearing assistance. Phone: 734-936-7021.

Updated 04.2015

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