Receiving a cancer diagnosis is life changing.
For many patients it can mean seemingly endless trips to the oncologist. It can also mean surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or other life altering treatment paths.
There is also the toll it can take on family members, finances and the patient’s own mental health. It can also mean long stays in faraway cities and meeting with a multitude of health care providers.
In the face of so much life altering change, having a dedicated team of people to help from start to finish can mean all the difference. And for the team at Nebraska Cancer Specialists, that is the goal.
“Our physicians are some of the most experienced and highly qualified in the area,” Kelly Horn, NCS Physician Liaison, said. “Not only will you have a medical oncologist, you will have an entire dedicated care team to support you throughout your treatment.”
Nebraska Cancer Specialists began as the brainchild of Dr. Robert Langdon and Dr. Margaret Block in 1989 and since its inception, the practice has grown to include 11 medical oncologists, 1 radiation oncologist, 12 nurse practitioners and over 180 dedicated staff members operating at five locations throughout the state—including the Fremont Health Park Plaza Medical Center at 450 E. 23rd St.
No matter which location a patient visits, they are cared for by a care team made up of a dedicated medical oncologist, advance practice provider, nurse case manager, medical assistant and scheduler.
“Patients are always cared for by the same team members,” Horn said. “Establishing a trusting relationship with a care team is important and we find it to provide a certain level of comfort to patients and families as they go through their course of care.”
In Fremont, two medical oncologists provide care at Nebraska Cancer Specialists including Dr. M. Salman Haroon and Dr. Nagendra Natarajan.
Haroon received his M.D. from Dow Medical College and University of Karachi in Pakistan, and completed his Internal Medicine Internship and residency through the AHEC Residency Training Program at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He is board certified in medical oncology and a clinical assistant progress in the Department of Medicine at Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha.
Natarajan completed his medical schooling in India and received a Master’s degree in Public Health Programming from Western Kentucky University. He also completed an internal medicine/pediatrics residency at Creighton University and hematology and medical oncology fellowship training at the University of Louisville.
Physicians at Nebraska Cancer Specialists are independent community oncologists who provide efficient, patient-centered oncology care at lower costs in a convenient outpatient setting.
“When you are caring for patients you want that independence, you want to provide the best care,” Natarajan said. “Here everyone is working towards that goal.”
Haroon says that one benefit of Nebraska Cancer Specialists, and its community oncology framework, is that patients can receive cutting-edge care in a comfortable environment close to home.
“It’s really about personalized care,” he said. “We have access to all the same treatments as some of the top cancer centers across the country, but here patients can live 5-10 minutes away and can get those treatments right in their neighborhood.”
One treatment pathway that Nebraska Cancer Specialists is focused on is theranostics. Theranostics is a new field of cancer care, relatively new to the United States, which describes using the combination of one radioactive drug to diagnose (nostics) and a second to deliver a specific targeted therapy (thera) based upon the initial targeted test.
The diagnostic component determines and defines the type and extent of the disease which allows decisions to be made on the timing, quantity, type of drugs, and choice of treatment options. The therapy component focuses on individualizing treatment by targeting therapy to an individual’s specific disease and administering the therapeutic agent to targeted sites of the disease which allows for higher doses administered safely to the site without significant exposure to normal tissue.
Currently, Nebraska Cancer Specialists is pioneering the state’s first and largest dedicated thernostics center.
“We are committed to delivering compassionate, personalized, and cutting edge care in a convenient outpatient community oncology setting,” Horn said.
Their treatment services also include an Integrative Health Care program which provides whole person care to patients, families and caregivers.
“Services such as occupational therapy, mental health, in-house pharmacy, genetic counseling, and fitness and nutrition classes are essential components to treatment and recovery,” Haroon said. “These patients really need help not only medically, but emotionally, socially, financially so there are a lot of aspects that go into it.”
Along with providing a variety of treatment options to patients, Nebraska Cancer Specialists also offers a variety of clinical research opportunities.
The Nebraska Cancer Specialists research team is comprised of dedicated research physicians, advanced practice providers, research nurses, data coordinators, a regulatory coordinator, research pharmacy technicians, research assistants, and a research manager.
The research program conducts phase I-IV trials and has enrolled over 200 patients on clinical trials in the past few years. Currently Nebraska Cancer Specialists has over 100 active clinical research trials available.
“The research team can get a trial up and running in two weeks and has combined over 100 years’ of experience conducting clinical research trials,” Horn said.
More information about Nebraska Cancer Specialists can be found online at nebraskacancer.com.