Roswell Park: Fact or Fiction

My MD told me I need surgery now - RPCI - how can you make me wait for an appointment?
I was diagnosed with cancer - will waiting be detrimental to me?

Although in rare cases immediate treatment is warranted, in most cases a diagnosis of cancer is not an emergency. Most of the time, the success of treatment will not be compromised by a delay of a few weeks. It takes time to learn about your cancer and options for treating it so that you are an informed partner in making the vitally important decisions that lie ahead of you.

Cancer is a very serious disease; if the diagnosis is not correct, or the first treatment used is not the best choice, the chance of a cure is reduced. In some cases, there is not a second chance for a cure.

Can you come to RPCI if you need a biopsy? I didn't think you could.

Roswell Park accepts patients with either a suspicion or a diagnosis of cancer or related diseases. If you have a symptom of concern, you should bring it to the attention of your primary care physician.  If she or he thinks your symptom might be due to cancer, you or your doctor can set up your appointment by calling 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355).

Neighborhood is too unsafe.

RPCI’s Public Safety officers regularly patrol our campus. Safe parking is available in our parking ramp which is located across the street from our main entrance. Patients and visitors can enter the hospital directly from the ramp via a secure, enclosed walkway should they prefer not to walk outside. We also offer Valet parking; patients can drive up to the main entrance and their vehicle will be parked for them, at no additional charge.

My MD said that RPCI does not have an emergency room so if something happens your MD’s will not see me.
Why would I send you a patient if you have no emergency room? If pt has to get admitted to community hospital I need to find a "non-RPCI" oncologist to consult.

After 5:00 pm and on weekends and holidays, patients should call (716) 845-2300 and the operator will connect them to the physician on call who can assist them.

If your patient requires immediate medical attention outside of business hours and/or is directed to go to the emergency room, she or he should go to the emergency room indicated below:

  • If your patient lives in the Buffalo area, she or he should go to the Buffalo General Hospital Emergency Department. Roswell Park has a collaborative relationship with Buffalo General Hospital to help your patient in the case of an emergency or an unplanned need for hospitalization. The doctors and nurses at Buffalo General Hospital have access to your patient’s Roswell Park medical records and will work with Roswell Park to coordinate his or her medical care.
  • If your patient is admitted to the Buffalo General Hospital, it will be under the care of a collaborating team of physicians and the oversight of her or his Roswell Park doctor. Your patient will need to bring the green Roswell Park ID card to help BGH physicians access his or her records.
  • If your patient lives outside of the Buffalo area, she or he should go directly to the nearest hospital emergency department. Patients who feel that they are in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.

People who go there (RPCI), die.
RPCI is too associated with "death"
RPCI is the final place you go if you are "dying."
Don't you have to wait until your doctor has tried everything possible before going there?

For reasons known only to them, many cancer patients exhaust every possible option for treatment available to them in the community before they come to RPCI. In some cases, they wait until they are told they have only a few weeks to live before seeking recommendations from our experts.

The good news is that we are able to offer treatment that extends the lives of some of these patients; unfortunately, many who come to RPCI as a last resort cannot be saved despite our best efforts.

One of the consequences is the perpetuation of the myth that people should only come to us as a last resort or that we are where people go to die. In reality, if patients came to us first instead of last, we would save many more because the first treatment usually offers the best chance for cure.

At RPCI, we use the most advanced and effective treatments available; because we are a specialty center for the treatment of cancer, we may even be able to offer options not available elsewhere in the area. We are a charter member of (and the only Upstate NY hospital in) the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of the top 21 cancer centers in the United States. Many of our doctors help write treatment guidelines published by the NCCN, which are based on the best scientific evidence of effectiveness for each type of cancer. Because our doctors devote 100% of their professional lives to cancer, they treat it every day and have extensive experience in their area of specialty. They are aware of the latest advances and patients benefit from their knowledge and expertise.

My cancer was not bad enough to go to RPCI.

It is certainly true that RPCI is considered to be a center of excellence for rare and complex cancers, but we also treat common cancers. RPCI offers total care to people with cancer and uses a multidisciplinary approach. Studies have repeatedly shown that cancer treatment decisions made collaboratively at the time of diagnosis offer patients the best opportunity for cure.

Advantages for the patient include:

  • Confirmation of the diagnosis by a team of pathologists whose specialty is cancer (about 10% of the time, our experts find errors in the original diagnosis that affect treatment choices for the patient)
  • Treatment recommendations are based not on the opinion of only one physician; instead experts from several sub-specialties review the patient’s case and offer the best options available to cure or control his or her cancer
  • Patients can receive the full complement of treatments here at RPCI for continuity of care
  • RPCI utilizes an electronic medical record to maximize accuracy and provide immediate information access to the entire health care team
  • Additional services (pain management, rehabilitation, physical therapy, genetics, discharge planning, psychosocial support and pastoral care) are available here

I need to get a referral from MD - I cannot just call there.

RPCI accepts patients with a suspicion or diagnosis of cancer or related condition. Patients may be referred by their physicians or may directly seek consultation and treatment. A referral from a primary care physician is necessary only if the patient’s health insurance requires it before the insurer will provide coverage.

My MD says no one dies @ RPCI - when you get bad they send you home to die.

RPCI provides total care to people with cancer—from diagnosis through treatment, recovery and follow-up care. People with advanced cancer are offered treatments to extend their lives; people with terminal cancer are offered palliative care (to control pain and other symptoms). Most people prefer to die at home, in familiar surroundings with their loved ones nearby. Hospice is a concept of care that stresses quality of life (peace, comfort and dignity) by controlling pain and other symptoms so the patient can remain as alert and comfortable as possible at the end of life. RPCI’s discharge planners assist patients in their transition to Hospice care if they so choose.

RPCI is too cold & impersonal - I want one on one - I do not want to just be a number.

At RPCI, the best care includes treating each and every patient with compassion, dignity and respect. Our patients are routinely surveyed so that we can monitor our strengths and our weaknesses, in order to continually strengthen our patient’s experience with us. Some of our most recent patient satisfaction scores include:

  • 98% of patients indicated that their patient experience at Roswell Park Cancer Institute met or exceeded their expectations.
  • 99% of patients indicated that they would be willing to return to the Institute should their medical condition warrant it.
  • 97% were extremely or very likely to recommend Roswell Park to others
  • 98% were satisfied with the medical care provided by their Roswell Park physicians
  • 95% were satisfied with Nursing care
  • 99% felt their family was treated with courtesy and concern