Meet Norfolk Oncologist/Hematologist, Dr. Burton F. Alexander, III, MD

April 7, 2021

Dr. Alexander is a medical oncologist/hematologist.

Two physicians shaped the course of Dr. Burton Alexander’s medical career, one starting at age 12 and the other when he was a first-year medical student. Their advice, boiled down to its most basic form: always be there for your patients. Always.

So, as a medical oncologist/hematologist, Dr. Alexander cares for patients with a wide variety of cancers and blood disorders at Virginia Oncology Associates (VOA) – including some of the most complex and rare conditions in the region – he answers calls and emails 24/7 on his cell phone.

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Meet Andrea Edwards, PA-C, APP Supervisor

February 26, 2021

Working with cancer patients is a gift. An honor. A challenge, of course, but one that brings Andrea Edwards great joy.

“There are hard days, but a lot of really good days, too,” says Edwards, a Physician Assistant (PA) and Advanced Practice Provider (APP) Supervisor at Virginia Oncology Associates. “My patients know that I’m beside them for every step of their journey. I’ve learned so much from them and am continuously humbled by their strength, perseverance and resiliency.”

Edwards is driven not only to help patients live their best, fullest lives but to pave the way for APP education, growth and development.

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Breast Cancer Risk Reduction

February 24, 2021

By Melissa M. Stewart

If you are a woman who believes doing regular self-exams will lower your breast cancer risk, think again. In fact, experts no longer advocate checking for lumps on your own.

Dr. Sonia Hepburn, a Hematology-Oncology specialist with Virginia Oncology Associates, says that both the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force now endorse clinical exams only.

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Taking Charge of Your Breast Health

November 12, 2020

By Cristina S. Alencar, MD, Virginia Oncology Associates

Part 1 of the Series: How to be proactive with your health

Women who know their breasts are more likely to catch changes that could indicate cancer.

Every breast is unique, including its textures and density. Genetic factors and lifestyle choices can directly affect breast health. A clinical breast exam (CBE) done by your healthcare professional at least once a year, and monthly breast self-exams can uncover problems at an early, treatable stage.  

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6 Ways to Help Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

July 9, 2020

Even though the medical field has made tremendous progress, there is still much to discover about cancer. However, we do know that there are several biological and environmental factors that can increase a person’s risk of getting the disease.

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Understanding the Prostate Biopsy Gleason Score

June 21, 2020

If you’ve received a prostate cancer diagnosis, the first thing your doctor may discuss with you is the Gleason Score. This is used to describe your stage of prostate cancer. Here we will review prostate cancer, the purpose of the Gleason Score, how it is calculated, and why it is so important.  

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What’s the Difference Between Direct-to-Consumer and Formal Genetic Testing?

June 16, 2020

Today, more and more people are becoming proactive about their health. And one major way they’re doing so is through genetic testing. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), there are “thousands of genetic tests available to aid physicians in the diagnosis and therapy of many diseases.” And that’s not even counting the tests that can be taken without the assistance of a physician. While taking appropriate measures to get a better handle on your health— and potentially the health of your relatives— is a good thing, it’s highly important to understand that not all genetic tests are created equal and they don’t all test for the same things. In fact, the two major types of available genetic tests have enough differences worth noting before making any final decisions. 

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How to Understand a Prostate Cancer Pathology Report

June 12, 2020

To test a tumor for cancer, your doctor will schedule you for a prostate biopsy. A biopsy is an outpatient procedure in which tissue will be removed from the tumor using a needle. This tissue will then be analyzed by a pathologist — a doctor who reviews the results of the biopsy and provides information about the findings. A pathology report shows you the results of your biopsy.

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Meet Tifany Lewis, Genetic Counselor at VOA

June 5, 2020

How does genetics contribute to diseases like cancer?

TL: Cancer is a genetic disease. We have approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in every cell of our body. Multiple genes are involved in regulating cell growth and repairing errors in our DNA. These genes typically protect us from developing cancer. Over time, we can acquire mutations (changes) in these genes leading to cancer development.

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Considering a Clinical Trial for Cancer Treatment: What You Need to Know

April 10, 2020

Clinical trials are research studies that help doctors find new treatments, improve existing treatments, and increase the quality of life for people with cancer. Sometimes the term “clinical trial” may make patients concerned the treatment is less safe or less effective than treatments currently available. Institutional review boards carefully review each study to ensure it is safe, comparable in effectiveness to standard treatments, and designed to yield important information.

You may be able to benefit from the treatments offered in a clinical trial if you meet certain criteria. Your decision to begin and continue with treatment on a clinical trial is always voluntary. The research team at Virginia Oncology Associates is dedicated to working with your cancer care team to see if you are a good fit for certain trials.

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