Story by: Karen Allen, R.N. on March 1, 2022
Ajay K. Kandra, M.D., has practiced medical oncology since 2010 and has a special interest in lung, breast, colon and prostate cancers.
His passions are caring for cancer patients, the science behind the medicine, research and understanding the complexity of cancer care.
Dr. Kandra is a board-certified medical oncologist/hematologist practicing at Norton King’s Daughters’ Health in Madison, Indiana.
We took time to get to know Dr. Kandra and ask some questions about cancer treatment.
People are often blindsided by a diagnosis of cancer and need prompt information on what comes next. How do you prepare newly diagnosed patients for what is to come?
Dr. Kandra: The most important thing for me is to really listen to them and find out what they know. Cancer can be complicated to diagnose and difficult to discuss. Multiple tests are necessary such as biopsy, X-ray, CT [computed tomography] scans, PET [positron emission tomography] scans and blood tests.
Related: If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, here are questions to ask
To ensure accuracy, the discussion about diagnosis is usually led by the oncologist, whom the patient may be meeting for the first time.
I like to have a detailed conversation with the patient, preferably with a family member present. It is important to start with the basics in simple terms, and I encourage the patient to ask questions and take notes. We also provide reading material.
How do oncologists guide the decision-making process?
Dr. Kandra: I provide information on the type of cancer, what the options for treatment are and what is likely to happen over time. I help the patient to make decisions, along with their family, in their best interest. Patients also can have serious conditions like heart, kidney or lung issues, which need to be taken into account while treating cancer.
Norton King’s Daughters’ Health is Norton Healthcare’s fifth adult-service hospital and the first outside of Louisville.
How do you collaborate with the oncology team in the initial stages of diagnosis and treatment?
Dr. Kandra: We have multidisciplinary cancer conferences called tumor board where we discuss the type of cancer a person has and the best way to treat them. A team of surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and others participate in these conferences.
As treatment progresses what are ways the oncology team helps to provide continuous care?
Dr. Kandra: Included in the discussion are a registered dietician, social worker, patient navigator, physical therapist, research coordinator and genetic counselor. We include our behavioral oncology team, who help people cope with a new diagnosis of cancer. These team members work with individuals throughout the treatment phase and into survivorship.
When is a second opinion a good idea?
Dr. Kandra: Second opinion is helpful when you have a rare type of cancer or whenever a patient wants one.
How do you talk about online information and finding reliable sources to learn about cancer topics?
Dr. Kandra: I tell patients to rely on reputable online sources. Two good ones are American Cancer Society, found at Cancer.org and National Cancer Institute found at Cancer.gov. I recommend patients to stay away from discussion forums where misinformation is possible.
You are located in Madison, Indiana. What makes this area special to your care?
Dr. Kandra: We are very happy to offer both medical oncology and radiation oncology to patients in the area. We participate in multidisciplinary conferences and collaborate with the Norton Cancer Institute team to offer a full range of cancer services to our patients.
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