Cancer Patients Scramble to Find New Care Options - 8 News NOW

Cancer Patients Scramble to Find New Care Options

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LAS VEGAS -- Come the end of January, the Nevada Cancer Institute in Summerlin will no longer exist.

The owner, UC San Diego Health System, made the official announcement Thursday after talks fell through to try to keep the facility open by leasing part of the building to Comprehensive Cancer Centers.

The closure means hundreds of patients are left scrambling for alternative care options. Oncologists are already getting calls from patients who may run into some challenges getting the care they need.

One of those patients is 74-year-old Joe Huey. He has been diagnosed with both prostate and lung cancer.

"I was shocked. I just heard it a few minutes ago," Huey said.

He says he believes he has received the best care at the institute but for him its mostly about the doctor.

"What we got to do is get someone we can believe in. If we cannot believe in them. let's go get somebody else," the former Marine said.

Oncologist Nav Sharda says there are many other care options in town for cancer patients, but growing health care costs means a number people are being turned away.

"It is frightening actually. The main problem is, we are running into lack of funding sources," Dr. Sharda said.

Sharda's practice, like many other oncology groups in town, treats all types of cancers at various stages, but he says for acute cases where patients need surgeries, many still have to go out of state.

According to new research out of UNLV, lack of affordable care is hurting patients chances of survival.

"Based on the numbers, you could say if you have cancer you are better off going elsewhere," assistant professor Paulo Pinheiro said.

Pinheiro's study found Nevadans are more likely to get cancer and die from it compared to patients in nearby states, in large part due to lack of good and affordable health care.

"There are not enough oncologists. There are not enough nurses. I think it is very unfortunate. As a researcher, I'm not very optimistic," Pinheiro said.

The closure of the Nevada Cancer Institute will also leave about 75 people without a job. The staff members are now helping patients find new doctors and gather their medical records.

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