Cancer: Early detection is key
SCHUYLER COUNTY--When it comes to cancer screening and treatment in Schuyler County, patients have more options than they did a few years ago. The partnership between Schuyler Hospital and the Cayuga Medical Center that was cemented in October of 2014 has made it so more patients can receive oncology services within the county. Oncology is the study and treatment of tumors, with Dr. Tim Bael of Cayuga Hematology Oncology Associates noting the sooner cancer is detected, the more likely a person will be able to overcome it with proper treatment.
Bael is part of a three-doctor team who rotate visits to Schuyler County every other week to meet with Schuyler patients locally. This team includes Dr. Charles Garbo and Dr. Julie Campbell. The trio uses the offices of Dr. James Winkler located in the old train depot in Montour Falls. Prior to the system cooperation, Schuyler residents were without any local oncology services, according to Schuyler Hospital. Bael said prior to this, patients would be referred to other hospitals for oncology services, namely in Ithaca or Elmira.
"There has been an increased access to cancer care," Bael said. "There is no question."
Bael listed breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer as the three most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer in Schuyler County. He noted while there are many variables that lead to cancer, they can include genetic and environmental factors. For example, Bael said colon cancer risk can also be determined by a person's diet, with those high in meat having an increased risk.
"Some are modifiable, some are genetic and some just happen," Bael said.
The oncology services in Schuyler County began in July of 2014, according to Schuyler Hospital, months prior to the partnership being officially announced. Bael said about 100 cases of cancer are diagnosed in Schuyler County every year. He said in 90 percent of the cases that are detected early on, the patient goes on to a full recovery. However, if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, Bael said that number drops to 10 percent.
Patients usually first suspect cancer following a screening with their primary care physician. Bael said many of these screenings begin around age 50 for many patients, although some screen younger if there is a family history of cancer.
If cancer is suspected, the patients are then referred to the medical oncologist for a diagnosis. Bael said while they have the option to meet in Schuyler County now, if there is a sense of urgency about the matter, patients can also come to Ithaca. Once diagnosed, the doctors will then discuss treatment options with the patient, most of which Bael said are available in Schuyler County or Ithaca. These treatments include both chemotherapy and surgery solutions depending on the type and severity of the cancer. However, if a case requires a particularly intense form of chemotherapy or a specialized surgery, patients are referred to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo.