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Published on July 15, 2013

Oncologist Dr. Michael Rachshtut describes the best part of being a cancer doctor

Dr. Michael Rachshtut, a hematologist/oncologist at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital, talks about cancer care in the community.

Michael RachshtutWhen it comes to cancer care at Mercy Philadelphia, what are you proudest of?

At Mercy, we are specialized to treat all cancers, including but not limited to breast, colorectal and lung as well as lymphomas, myelodysplasia and leukemia. We also follow guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network—doctors from cancer centers across the US develop protocols on what is the best way to treat cancer. We use these guidelines to treat every case that we see.

What I’m proudest of is that we have brought university-level cancer care to Mercy Philadelphia. We built a state-of-the-art chemotherapy infusion suite, have multi-disciplinary treatment teams and provide a large support staff to help our patients recover. We’re here to help an underserved community that perhaps without us would not have access to university-level care. Now they do.

What are some of the latest advances in cancer treatment that you are most excited about?

There are many new advances in oral therapies to treat cancer: For some types of lung, breast, colon and kidney cancers, we can now give our patients pills to take orally instead of making them come in and sit for IV chemotherapy. This is great, because it means patients can be treated at home rather than be in a hospital. They don’t have to come in to the hospital as often.

I’m also excited because Mercy Philadelphia has new plastic surgeons on staff. These surgeons are skilled in doing wonderful breast reconstruction for patients after they’ve had a mastectomy or lumpectomy—this is great news for our women patients.

What is the best part of your job?

It feels like almost every other day someone comes in to say “thank you.” For example, I had a patient who was diagnosed at the same time with both oral cancer and anal cancer; both in advanced stages. He went to a local university hospital and was told there was not much that could be done for him. He came to us at Mercy Philadelphia, and we were able to treat both cancers at the same time, with concurrent chemotherapy and radiation.

Today, this man has been cancer free for more than two years. Every year on his birthday, he comes into the hospital and gives me a hug.

Patients like him make the long days and the very long hours worth it. I wouldn’t be anywhere else but Mercy Philadelphia.

What do you think makes the cancer care you provide unique?

I think it’s my personality. I am very approachable and giving of my time to patients and their families. Most call me by my nickname “Dr. Mickey,” as I have a long last name. Even in our chemotherapy suite, we try to accommodate our patients as much as possible by providing meals, transportation, and social support. Not all hospitals do that.

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