A physician assistant (PA) is a medical professional who is nationally certified and state-licensed. A PA is not just an assistant to physicians- they provide many of the same medical services doctors provide and are equally responsible for patient care in all settings and specialties. The following are examples of the many PA responsibilities:
- Obtain medical history information
- Conduct physical examinations
- Diagnose and treat illnesses
- Prescribe medication
- Order and interpret lab tests
- Perform procedures
- Assist in surgery
- Provide patient and caregiver education and counseling
- Round in hospitals and nursing homes
- Participate in clinical research to identify new medical therapies
Physician Assistants in Cancer Care
Many PAs work in the cancer care setting- from screening and prevention to cancer treatment to survivorship. One of the benefits of having a PA on a cancer care team is their flexibility- often PAs can spend more time with patients than physicians can. PAs work very closely with patients and their caregivers in the oncology setting to treat symptoms or side effects of cancer or cancer therapies. Over the course of cancer treatment, PAs establish relationships with patients, their families, and their caregivers. The rapport patients have with their medical team is essential- it helps facilitate communication, which helps to improve patient care. Your PA will encourage you to ask questions- take advantage of this opportunity and time with your health care team and address your fertility concerns.
Ask you PA about how your (or your family member's) cancer treatment may affect fertility and what fertility preservation options are currently available. Here are 5 questions to help get the conversation started:
- How is my cancer affecting my health right now?
- How quickly do I need to start treatment?
- Will my cancer or its treatment affect my future fertility?
- What fertility preservation options are out there?
- Can I have a child after my cancer?
If you have a specific fertility-related question or would like a referral for a fertility preservation consultation, call the Oncofertility Consortium® FERTline at 312-503-FERT or 866-708-FERT to speak with a patient navigator and find a reproductive specialist near you.