Of all the phrases you will ever hear, “you have cancer” is one of the most devastating. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, you need a cancer specialist who can guide you through this journey. Dr. Stark-Vance is an oncologist with years of training in research and clinical practice who can help you make sense of your diagnosis, and most importantly, your treatment options. Whether you have an early stage breast cancer or a highly malignant brain tumor, Dr. Stark-Vance can offer you the personal services that you and your family need.
Whether you are new to the Dallas area, newly diagnosed, or looking for a second opinion, we want to help you find medical care that works for you. As a specialist in oncology, Dr. Stark-Vance sees patients with a variety of cancers and blood disorders, 16 years of age and older. Because of her research and experience in the treatment of brain tumors, she sees many patients with primary or metastatic brain tumors.
While it’s true that we take Medicare, Medicaid, and virtually all commercial insurance plans, it’s always best to call first and make sure that we take your insurance. This is particularly true if you are visiting from out of state and may have certain restrictions on physicians you can see in your network. We will do everything possible to make sure your insurance information is correct so that you don’t have unnecessary out of pocket expense.
If you require a referral from your primary care physician, please call them as soon as you can so that this doesn’t delay your appointment. If you don’t know whether a referral is required, call our office, having your insurance card available, and we will help you find out.
Typically we will try to obtain as many of your previous medical records as possible, as this will help Dr. Stark-Vance understand what tests have been done and what might still need to be done. It is very important to have copies of your MRI scans, CT scans, PET scans, or other imaging on film or CD at the time of your appointment. Many people assume that reports will be faxed and that is all that is needed; however, radiologists sometimes omit crucial information such as the exact size of a tumor, or whether it is adjacent to an important structure. Please make sure that you obtain copies of your imaging studies on film or CD and bring them with you at the time of your visit. Often, these copies are free from the imaging facility and they take only a few minutes to prepare. After Dr. Stark-Vance reviews them, she will return these copies to you, unless they need to be forwarded to another physician for consultation.
To save time at your first appointment, you may be able to complete much of the routine paperwork prior to your visit. We can mail or fax you a packet of forms (including consent forms to obtain your previous records). Unfortunately, all doctors require some basic information, including family history, current medications, allergies, etc. and sometimes another doctor has incorrect information! The only way we can ensure that all of your information is accurate and up to date is to ask you.
Please be patient with us as we try to make sure your appointment is completely satisfactory.
A Word about Scheduling…
Patients are often advised to try to schedule the first office visit of the day – and no wonder! Doctors often run late for any number of reasons, including emergencies, phone calls from other physicians, and sometimes, unfortunately, patients who are late for their appointment. It makes sense, then, that if you’re a punctual person, you would want to try to be seen as early as possible so that a latecomer ahead of you doesn’t make your appointment late too.
However, it is important to know that chemotherapy patients are scheduled first, before all follow up and new patients. They require Dr. Stark-Vance’s undivided attention and some types of chemotherapy take several hours to complete. Most chemotherapy is prepared at the time of the patient’s visit because the drugs are not stable for hours or days in advance. Therefore, the morning clinic is set aside for this important task, although in unusual situations, some patients may begin their chemotherapy infusion in the afternoon. As important as each individual patient is, it is still so extremely important that chemotherapy be given safely and monitored frequently that patients who have a scheduled appointment may sometimes get “bumped” by a chemotherapy patient. While the office staff and Dr.Stark-Vance make every effort to make sure every patient receives the care and attention that they need, please be patient if you are asked to wait a few minutes.
Dr. Stark-Vance also has a policy of allowing all patients enough time for questions, even if that means someone may have to wait. In an oncology practice, it is common that patients have follow up visits that could bring “good news” or “bad news.” It is easy to understand why a patient has many more questions if he or she has just been given “bad news.” Imagine that you have just been told that you have an unexpected complication, even a life-threatening one. Would you want a doctor to say, “Well, that’s too bad, but come back in another week and we’ll discuss it then?” Of course not. Again, these are not daily occurrences, but they do happen, and they might even happen to you some day. Dr. Stark-Vance will make every effort to give you the information you need, and avoid – if at all possible- waiting any longer than necessary. If you know you have a very tight schedule, or you know you will be late for your appointment, please call ahead and we will do everything possible to accommodate you. If you have a new symptom, or need more time to discuss your treatment, it is best to call ahead to make sure we've allowed plenty of time for this.