Plus, Katy’s Frequently Asked Cancer Questions Answered by a Leading Oncologist
Katy Magazine I September 2018
By Katrina Katsarelis
Good News for Cancer Patients in Katy
Oncology Consultants recently opened a new Katy clinic to provide services and support for cancer patients in the greater Katy area. The new facility is one of 10 Oncology Consultants Clinics and is located at 23960 Katy Freeway. This location is one of only three that have an on-site pharmacy to help patients get their prescriptions filled and refilled quickly and conveniently. “Time is of the essence with cancer patients, sometimes they lose precious time waiting for pharmacies to special order their medications,” explains oncologist Dr. Mona Lisa Alattar. The clinic helps diagnose, treat, support, and optimize resources for their patients. They also provide second opinions, testing, and have 24 clinical trials underway to offer more options to Katy Area cancer patients.
Here is a Q&A with oncologist Mona Lisa Alattar, who is board certified in medical oncology, hematology, and internal medicine.
What is the number one question you’re always asked by patients? “Do I have to get chemotherapy?” This is a tough question since there are many types of cancer and not all cancer is treated with chemotherapy. Also, new personalized cancer therapy is not necessarily “chemotherapy,” rather, targeted therapy or immunotherapy. We make sure to look deeply at each patient's individual case and consult with them instead of automatically recommending chemotherapy. Being diagnosed with cancer can be an overwhelming and scary process, but we are here to help answer any questions or concerns you may have. At the end of the day, you are the ultimate boss of your body, but it is our goal to make you feel confident in whatever decision you may choose.
What types of cancer does OC treat? As a dedicated cancer clinic, we diagnose, stage, and treat virtually all types and stages of cancer including breast, colon, ovarian, head and neck, bladder, melanoma, skin, uterine, prostate, lung, bone, and many others.
Should I get a second opinion? Yes. Second opinions are more likely to be comprehensive, or inclusive of every possible perspective, when performed in a cancer center like ours with a multidisciplinary team. This usually includes surgeons, oncologists, radiation therapists, and sub-specialist oncologists.
What is your biggest piece of advice for newly diagnosed patients? Breathe and remember it is okay to ask for help. It is our job to make you feel comfortable and confident during your cancer journey. We want you to feel comfortable asking questions during your visits with the doctor. We encourage you to bring your family or friends to support you. We want to be a source of support for you as well.
How does Oncology Consultants (OC) stand out among other cancer treatment centers?
When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, the patient and their family should expect a caring environment backed by a high standard of cutting edge care. At OC, we have over 24 clinical trials covering several tumor types and continue to expand. Cancer is tricky and ever changing, so new research using clinical trials are an integral part of this mission. Our patients love having everything they need under one roof . Oncologists, in-house pharmacy, infusion center, radiation oncology and imaging center with PET scans, as well as a strong cancer team focused on each individual patient’s care. Not only is it convenient for our patients, it also helps us expedite their treatment to save precious time.
To ensure optimal care, OC is one of the only QOPI (Quality Oncology Practice Initiative) certified private practices in Houston. QOPI is a voluntary, self-assessment and improvement program launched by ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) in 2006 to help hematology-oncology and medical oncology practices assess the quality of the care they provide to patients at the highest level.
What does Oncology Consultants treatment approach look like? First and foremost, we want to meet the patient, their family, and make sure we know your “story” from the beginning. Next, I review all the data obtained and ensure accuracy from pathology to radiology and any procedures done with the patient. I discuss staging followed by treatment options compliant with the National Cancer Care Network (NCCN) or clinical trials. I also moderate a cancer tumor board at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Memorial City where I can discuss cases with other medical oncologists, review images with radiologists, surgeons, and radiation oncologists with a multidisciplinary approach.
What are some of the advantages of having an in-house pharmacy? We have the medications right there! That makes a paramount difference because we can get a drug the same day or within the next few days, whereas, outside pharmacies require more time which can delay treatment.
What is the hype surrounding immunotherapy and is it used in your practice? Cancer immunotherapy is a treatment that uses your body's own immune system to help fight cancer. This can be through stimulating your immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells, or by delivering "tools" to your immune system. These “tools” are man-made immune system proteins that work like ammunition against cancer. The main types include: monoclonal antibodies, cancer vaccines, immune checkpoint inhibitors, etc. Several immunotherapy drugs have been FDA approved for use in several cancer types, and we are actively using them in our everyday practice when necessary.
What made you specialize in medical oncology and hematology? I would say twofold: the patients and the science. During my medical training, cancer patients were the ones who appealed to my heart the most. For one, cancer affects everyone either directly or indirectly. As far as the science of cancer, it is very enigmatic. New discoveries are being made daily that literally save lives and it is exciting to share that joy with patients and their families.
Do you have any unfulfilled goals in your career path?
Certainly, the list is ongoing, but I truly would like us all to find the magic pill that could end this terrible illness called cancer.
Any final words for those newly diagnosed?
Getting diagnosed with cancer is never easy. The disease opens up the door to uncertainty and fear. At Oncology Consultants, we want to alleviate the stress and burden brought on by a cancer diagnosis with the best doctors and care at your disposal. If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with cancer, please give us a call at 1-855-827-9525 and schedule an appointment. You can also check out all of our available services, read about different types of cancer and available resources, as well as stay informed about current events in the cancer community by visiting our website at www.oncologyconsultants.com. We look forward to serving you throughout your fight against cancer!
ABOUT DR ALATTAR
Mona Lisa Alattar, M.D., is a local Houstonian and received a B.A. in Psychology at Rice University, attended St. George’s University School of Medicine, fulfilled her residency at UT Houston Health Science Center, and attended UT Southwestern Medical Center and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for her Hematology/Oncology and Leukemia fellowships. I think it is safe to say, Dr. Alattar is one of the best! She has been with Oncology Consultants a little over 2 years and practices medicine at 3 of our clinics: Katy, Memorial City and Sugar Land. A few of her specialties include but are not limited to: breast, lung, colorectal, and gastrointestinal cancer as well as multiple myeloma, leukemia, blood disorders and clinical research. She's also fluent in Spanish and Arabic.
Oncology Consultants Katy is located at 23960 Katy Freeway Suite 325, Katy, TX 77494
Call 281.578.0201 or visit www.oncologyconsultants.com
SCHEDULING AN APPOINTMENT
If you are a cancer patient, need a second opinion on a diagnosis please visit Oncology Consultants.