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When a friend’s cancer doctor visits you: What to know about the latest in the battle for the cure

NEW YORK — A new generation of cancer patients are finding comfort in the idea that their friends and family members may be able to help them with their care.

Dr. Joseph P. DiRosa, a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, said his colleagues are seeing a growing number of patients who ask if they can visit their loved ones in their offices, which typically are not far away.

“We are seeing more and more patients that we have to get on the phone with to get a referral to our office,” he said.

DiRosa said he and his colleagues at Mount Simeon Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital have seen more than 500 patients with friends or family members in the last year asking for help in getting a referral for cancer care.

DiVito M. DeMello, a radiologist at MountSimeon, said that his hospital recently started a program to offer patients with cancer the opportunity to get appointments with doctors in the emergency room, in a place that’s close to their home.

“That’s been an important part of the program,” he told ABC News.

DiLosas hospital’s program has helped patients like Daniel S. Gannon, who has leukemia, get referrals to other hospitals in the city, where they can also be seen by doctors in emergency rooms.

Gannon, 45, has lived in New Orleans for 30 years and works in marketing for the company that makes his sunglasses.

He told ABC affiliate WFAA that he’s often the first person a friend or family member wants to see in their office.

“It’s been really therapeutic for me to get to see my family members,” he added.

Golan has been waiting for a referral from his family member in New Jersey, who is battling lung cancer.

He said he’s been looking forward to seeing his family members, but has been frustrated by the wait.

“When I told them I was coming, they were so happy,” Gannon said.

“I just felt like they were trying to rush me, but they were in my corner and they were able to get me in there.”

Gannon said he believes there is a greater acceptance among cancer patients for seeing their family members.

“It’s like they have been able to see their family member for the first time in their lives,” he explained.

DiMello said he hopes that the new approach will continue to expand in the future.

“I would say we’re not quite there yet, but I would hope that it continues to grow and expand,” he continued.

“There’s a lot of really good work being done in the specialty medicine area, so I think it’s going to continue to grow in the next couple of years.”

DiRosas patients, who make up just under 5 percent of the U.S. population, have been the target of a growing list of medical advances that have raised hopes of a cure. 

The cancer drugs, such as rivastigmine, which is also used to treat colorectal cancer, and tamoxifen, a treatment for type 2 diabetes, have also helped patients recover from a fatal cancer. 

But while many of these drugs have shown promise, a lack of funding, and a reluctance to treat patients with advanced cancers has left many patients in a difficult spot.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recently announced it would be closing its online cancer resource, The Cancer Institute, after its mission was criticized by some for failing to provide timely and accurate data on treatment options.