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Our Patients & Partners

Breakthroughs, Breakthroughs • Spring 2024


Yale-Smilow Cancer

We hear often that healthcare is broken, but not enough about what is being done to make it better. The views are varied and depend on who is answering the question. But for many clinicians, who are often under huge pressure to see more and more patients in the day, there is a desire to step back, slow the pace, and focus on the patient. Indeed, the patient is at the center of all that we do. We need to embrace patients as our partners, as an integral part of the healthcare team. When an oncologist enters a room with a patient, there is an opportunity to open a door and walk into a patient’s life in a way that is true of few other fields.

Cancers vary greatly from one to another and so do individuals. Decisions about treatment approaches must be personalized, and need to reflect the patient’s particular cancer, their other health problems, social circumstances, unique set of preferences, goals, and so much more. When patients and their family members are fully involved in treatment decisions and care, the medical outcomes are better, side effects from treatment are diminished, and patients are more satisfied with their experience. Building partnerships between patients and clinicians must begin early in the relationship, and it may take time to build trust. In the end, a true partnership will lead to better care, and will also enhance our ability to conduct clinical trials, answer key scientific questions, and ultimately make cancer care better in the future.

As we consider patient-clinician partnerships, it is imperative that we emphasize the challenges faced by the many individuals at risk for cancer care disparities, including patients who are from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, patients living in poverty, patients who may not have had extensive formal education, patients from the LGBTQ+ community, those with mental health challenges, and so many others. For many of these individuals, partnerships with physicians may be even more difficult to form, but are absolutely indispensable if we are to mitigate inequities in cancer care.

Our overarching goals at the Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital are to provide the best cancer care that is available today and ensure that our treatments will improve in the future. We are committed to care, research, and education. And we are determined that everyone with cancer who walks through our doors or lives in our community has equal access to cancer care and to the advances provided by research.


Eric P. Winer, MD

Director, Yale Cancer Center
President & Physician-in-chief Smilow Cancer Hospital

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