Preparing for an Appointment
Penn's Abramson Cancer Center provides a full spectrum of cancer care and education from risk and prevention to diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.
Before Making an Appointment
A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming to patients and their loved ones. The Abramson Cancer Center offers these tips for recently diagnosed patients and their loved ones.
In addition, OncoPilot, a guide for newly diagnosed cancer patients offered through the cancer resource OncoLink, can help patients navigate a cancer diagnosis.
Penn primary care doctors, specialists and hospitals accept most health plans. It is always a good idea to check with your insurance company to make sure they are accepted at Penn Medicine.
Find a Doctor
Penn Medicine makes it easy to locate a cancer specialist.
Making an Appointment
To make an appointment with a hematologist/oncologist at the Abramson Cancer Center, please call 1-800-789-PENN (7366).
A patient service representative will ask about insurance and assist in making an appointment.
Patients may receive two bills for their care:
- A bill from the physician, for services provided by the physician
- A hospital bill for services provided at one of Penn's hospitals
Preparing for the First Appointment
Patients should ask their referring physician or hospital to have all medical records sent to Penn Medicine. The physicians will access any medical records for any inpatient procedure that was performed at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, as well as any other records from other Penn physicians.
The following is a list of things needed to ensure a complete and thorough consultation with a cancer specialist.
- Pathology slides and a copy of the pathology report. Request these items from the hospital where the biopsy or surgery was performed. Generally, they can be sent from the performing hospital's pathology department.
- Original X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, mammograms, MRI studies, PET scans and a copy of the report from these studies. Please request these from the site where films/scans were taken. (Most of these studies can be put on discs for viewing and are very important for the consultation.)
- Bone scans, MUGA scans, and their reports. Please request these from the site where they were done.
- Chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy records (if applicable), including dates, names of the drugs received and doses of treatment. Please request this information from the previous hematologist/oncologist.
- Results of recent laboratory and blood tests. Please request from hospital/lab and current physician.
- A copy of any inpatient hospitalization records. Please request from the medical records department where hospitalized.
- A letter of referral and/or most recent progress notes from relevant physicians.
A Multidisciplinary Approach to Cancer Care
Penn's multidisciplinary approach to cancer care ensures that patients get treatment from nationally recognized leaders in the fields of medical, radiation and surgical oncology, as well as pathology, radiology, integrative medicine and wellness, nutrition and support staff.
During their visit, patients may be seen by one or more of the following:
- Hematologist: A physician who specializes in diseases of the blood.
- Oncologist: A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
- Fellow: A physician undergoing specialized training in the field of hematology/oncology.
- Resident: A physician who has finished medical school and is now receiving more specialized training.
- Physician assistant: A health care professional trained and licensed to practice medicine with limited supervision by a physician.
- Nurse practitioner: An advanced practice registered nurse who has completed graduate-level education. All nurse practitioners are registered nurses.
- Registered nurse: A nurse who has graduated from a college's nursing program or from a school of nursing and has passed a national licensing exam.
Allow Enough Time
Because Penn specialists want to be thorough, a new patient visit may include lab work and additional tests. Please allow for up to three hours for the first visit.
- Please arrive 30 minutes prior to the appointment time.
- New patients will be asked to sign a HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practice form.
- Patients should bring to their first visit:
- Insurance card/information
- Photo identification
- Any required co-pay
- A support person or family member
Penn Medicine is committed to providing convenient, safe and customer friendly self-parking and valet parking for patients, patient families and visitors. Parking garages are available at the Perelman Center, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and Penn Tower.
Where to Stay
The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is close to several hotels.
Where to Eat
There are several places to eat at the Penn Medicine including restaurants (Gia Pronto and Potbelly), cafes and coffee carts, and the cafeteria at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Locations and Directions
Hospital visiting hours have been established to allow the patient care providers the required time to provide the needed care to the patients.
Preparing for Therapy Visits
Infusion clinic hours (chemotherapy) are from 7 am to 7 pm, Monday through Friday. Appointments are scheduled based on availability.
Staff at the Abramson Cancer Center will do their best to accommodate patients' requested appointment times.
Some tips to prepare for a therapy visit:
- Increase fluid intake the day before, the day of, and for three days after the treatment. Keeping hydrated helps patients feel better.
- Take any medications ordered by the treatment team before chemotherapy as directed. Check with the doctor or nurse before taking any other medications.
- Eat normally on treatment days. It helps to have something in the stomach.
- Outpatient treatments at the clinic may take a half-day or longer.
- Bring items to keep the patient comfortable during the visit. Patient infusion rooms are private, and have TVs as well as wireless Internet access. Patients may bring laptops, books, blankets, snacks, drinks, personal music players or anything else they like.
- We encourage family members or support persons to attend visits. It's also recommended to have a support person drive patients home in case they are not feeling well.
Managing Treatment Side Effects
Cancer and its treatments affect every person differently. The cancer team at Penn Medicine understands that the more patients know about how to manage their care and its side effects, the better they will feel.