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Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

A Message to Our Patients

Dr. John Sweetenham, Associate Director for Clinical Affairs at Simmons Cancer Center, provides updates on procedures, appointments, and important safety measures we have put in place during the COVID-19 emergency. We know this is an anxious time for cancer patients. "Our focus will always remain the same: your safety and good health."

Cancer and COVID-19: What You Need to Know

Thank you for trusting Simmons Cancer Center with your care. We want to reassure all of our patients that your care, your health, and your well-being remain our top priorities during the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

UT Southwestern and Simmons Cancer Center are open and committed to providing you expert and timely cancer care in a safe environment. We are continuing to see newly diagnosed patients, as well as patients in active treatment. Extensive safety measures have been put in place within our hospitals and clinical facilities to protect you, your family, and the health care professionals who will be caring for you.

We know you have questions, so we are providing some answers here. If you need more specific information about your care or an appointment, please contact us through MyChart.

What should I do if I am in active treatment for cancer?

We encourage you to keep your regularly scheduled appointments. The day before the appointment, a member of your cancer care team will contact you to confirm the details and to screen for COVID-19 infection risks or symptoms. All staff, faculty, patients, and visitors to the Simmons Cancer Center will also undergo temperature checks via a forehead thermometer scan at the entrance. If you have a fever, we will advise you on the best course of action.

What if I am a new patient at Simmons Cancer Center?

We recommend new patients who are scheduled for a pre-clinic consult or test to keep their appointments. As with patients undergoing active treatments, you will be contacted by a member of the cancer care team in advance of your appointment to screen for COVID-19 symptoms. Expect to undergo a temperature check via a forehead thermometer scan when you arrive at Simmons Cancer Center. Should you have a fever or any other symptoms, we will advise you on the best course of action.

If I am no longer undergoing active therapy, should I reschedule my appointment?

The safest option is to reschedule your follow-up appointment to a later date. We are carefully reviewing records of all our patients and might recommend this through a phone call or MyChart message. If so, we will work with you on rescheduling for a future date. If you decide you’d like to be seen, of course you can keep your appointment, but we might recommend switching to a video visit with your provider. If so, we will help you set that up as well.

What if I have an upcoming appointment for imaging or scans?

Your care team will contact you directly to discuss how best to proceed. 

Am I in danger of my cancer coming back if I miss my follow-up appointment?

UT Southwestern staff are contacting patients regarding scheduled follow-up appointments. Your cancer care team will take any risks into consideration and recommend an appropriate time frame for your next appointment. Your health is important to us, so please contact us if you develop any new symptoms between your appointments.

What is UT Southwestern doing to protect me if I come in for my appointment?

For your safety, we are making calls to all patients the day before their appointment in order to screen for travel and infection risk. Additionally, we have instituted safety measures to protect patients, visitors, and staff from COVID-19 and reduce the risk of transmission. These precautions include:

  • Limiting visitors to one per patient (please bring only one caregiver with you)
  • Designated entry points to hospitals and clinics
  • Asking questions of all patients and visitors to screen for infection risk
  • Providing temperature checks via forehead thermometer scans for all staff, faculty, patients, and visitors before they enter Simmons Cancer Center
  • Anyone who has a reading of 99.6°F/37.6°C or higher, or COVID-19 symptoms, will not be allowed to enter the building and will be advised on the best course of action
  • All employees will be required to wear surgical masks
  • Additional cleaning of clinics and common areas
  • Free self-parking. The valet team will be operating golf carts to assist patients to the front door (with additional safety measures)
Am I considered immunocompromised if I have had cancer treatment?

If you have had treatment for cancer, it’s possible that your immune system will be impaired and that you will be at a higher risk from COVID-19. Every patient is different, but if you have concerns, please consult your care team.

Is it safe for me to go to the grocery store, travel, see my grandkids, etc.?

We recommend you follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for social distancing, travel, and hand hygiene. We are also asking patients and visitors to our facilities to follow those guidelines to reduce the risk of transmission. They include:

  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Stay at home when you’re sick. 
  • Avoid close contact with people (6 feet), particularly those who are sick.
What do I do if I develop COVID-19 symptoms?

If you are currently undergoing cancer treatment, it is important that you contact us with any new symptoms. Please call our office, 214-645-4673, or send a MyChart message so we can evaluate the best way to care for you during this time. We ask that you don’t come to the clinic without speaking to one of our team members first. If you are a cancer survivor, we recommend contacting your primary care provider for any potential COVID-19 symptoms. 

Will more policies and recommendations change due to COVID-19?

The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly, and while our procedures might change in the coming weeks our priorities will not – those are to keep you safe, informed, and focused on feeling well. We appreciate your patience, flexibility, and cooperation during this stressful time. If you have additional questions, please continue to use MyChart as a communication channel with your care team. Or call the UT Southwestern Appointment line at 817-676-9117.

For more updates on UT Southwestern's COVID-19 response, click here

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Simmons Cancer Center among top research, care institutions in the nation

The National Cancer Institute and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network have both recognized Simmons Cancer Center as one of the elite centers in the country for patient care, research, and education. 

The Simmons Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in North Texas and one of just five in the entire Southwest. In addition, Simmons Cancer Center is among only 30 U.S. cancer research centers to be designated by the NCI as a National Clinical Trials Network Lead Academic Participating Site. 

NCCN logo

NCCN is a nonprofit alliance of 30 distinguished comprehensive cancer centers throughout the United States, including Harvard, Yale, and the Mayo Clinic. 

NCCN leaders praised Simmons Cancer Center's combination of medical and scientific expertise, as well as its leadership in clinical trials and advanced therapies, when it named UT Southwestern to its alliance in March 2020.

NCCN and NCI comprehensive designations are the gold standards for cancer programs. They reflect our ability to deliver the best care available today, and our promise to discover treatments that will lead to the best cancer care of tomorrow.

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Recognized by U.S. News & World Report for cancer care, prevention

UT Southwestern’s cancer care earned High Performing recognition from U.S. News & World Report for 2019–20, placing us among the country’s leading cancer treatment facilities.

Our team of hundreds of leading cancer physicians and oncology-trained support staff are trusted partners in returning patients with cancer to good health. Through a combination of expertly delivered, compassionate care and our initiatives to develop new lines of defense against cancer, we offer more than most cancer centers. We deliver the future of cancer care, today.

An Elite Standard of Cancer Care and Research

At Simmons Cancer Center, we have hundreds of professionals participating in more than a dozen cancer research and clinical care programs to advance the treatment and prevention of cancer through basic discovery, translational research, innovative clinical trials, exceptional cancer care, community education, and the latest technologies.

Cancer Clinical Trials

Our Sole Focus Is Cancer

At Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, we are experts in diagnosing and treating cancer because we offer:

  • The top cancer specialists in the country
  • Innovative therapies
  • Seamless disease-oriented teams collaborating for each patient
  • A broad array of treatment options
  • Leading-edge clinical trials
  • The most advanced technology and equipment
  • State-of-the-art clinics and hospitals
  • Support services for our patients and their loved ones

With NCI Comprehensive designation, Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center is among the most elite cancer centers in the U.S. According to a 2009 study from The Dartmouth Institute, one-year cancer deaths are 25% lower for patients with the four most common types of cancer who receive care at NCI-designated cancer centers.

Find a Clinical Trial

We have a wide range of clinical trials open to patients with all stages of cancer. Search for opportunities to participate in a cancer study.

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Your support enables us to advance promising new research and treatment programs that will improve the quality of life for all and impact the state of cancer knowledge and care. 

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