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Patient and Health Care Consumer Education Guide: Experience as an MSK Patient

Guiding patients, family members, caregivers, consumers, and the larger MSK community to cancer information.

This page is for those who are interested in becoming a patient at MSK or are curious about the services we offer.

The text "Experience as an MSK Patient" in white on a purple flower background.

Learning About MSK Services

  • Becoming a Patient
    • If you're interested in becoming an MSK patient, this guide is your one-stop checklist. Learn how to request an appointment, get help with insurance, and prepare for your visit.
  • MyMSK
    • This page explains MyMSK, a patient portal that allows you, your family members, caregivers, or friends to securely access information about your care at MSK, including lab results, appointments and hospital bills. Even if you're not a patient, you can create a free account to access the latest information about cancer care, sign up for events with MSK experts, or message MSK about becoming a new patient.
  • Services for International Patients
    • MSK’s Bobst International Center has a team ready to guide you. Guest services will help answer questions, match you with the best doctors and services for your needs, and coordinate services.
  • MSK Kids
    • MSK Kids is committed to doing all they can to help your child continue being a kid. Most care is delivered on an outpatient basis, so your child can spend less time in a hospital room and more time at home with friends and family.

The MSK Approach to Cancer Care

  • Patient & Caregiver Education Program
    • Dedicated to empowering cancer patients, their caregivers, and the public through the development of accurate, clear, and reliable educational resources, this is joint work between MSK's team of health education specialists and health care providers. The search bar at the center of the page allows you to search their virtual library of written resources, videos, and online programs. You can also use their Google Custom Search bar at the right of the page to find health-related information from other websites they trust.
  • Cancer Types
    • Part of MSK's larger site on cancer care for adult patients, each cancer type links to a page with background information on the specific disease, its diagnosis, and treatment. Look here for detailed information about cancer care at MSK, doctors who specialize in your type of cancer, and links to related news and resources.
  • Pediatric Cancers
    • Learn more about pediatric cancers and how MSK Kids tailors treatment plans for child and teen patients.
  • Living Beyond Cancer
    • This MSK program provides services for cancer survivors and their loved ones, including support groups, seminars, and workshops.

Programs Alongside Cancer Treatment

  • Patient Activities
    • While undergoing cancer treatment, you may spend a significant amount of time at MSK for appointments and procedures, and these activities encourage relaxation and provide distractions. One example is Visible Ink, a writing program that pairs patients (whether currently in treatment, post treatment, or as long-term survivors) with experienced writers as mentors.
  • Nutrition and Cancer
    • You can use MSK's diet plans and recipes to help with healthy eating habits during and after cancer treatment.
  • Tobacco Treatment Program
    • This program draws on a wide range of approaches to help you quit. They use safe and effective medications and the latest behavioral techniques to help you break this addiction and become skilled in using diverse strategies to resist urges to smoke.

Mental Health, Support Groups, and Spiritual Care

  • Counseling at MSK
    • Psychiatrists and psychologists at MSK’s Counseling Center are experienced in structuring sessions to meet your specific needs. They work with individuals and families, and also offer group sessions for people who might benefit from interacting with others in similar circumstances.
  • Help for Caregivers
    • MSK's recognizes that caregivers are an important part of the cancer care team, and that as the family member or friend of someone with cancer, you may find yourself juggling responsibilities and different emotions. This site lists educational resources and various support services, both within and outside of MSK.
  • Patient & Caregiver Support Program
    • This patient-to-patient peer support program connects patients and caregivers with people who’ve been through a similar cancer diagnosis, treatment, and/or caregiving experience, and who understand your challenges and worries.
  • Virtual Support Groups & Programs
    • MSK’s Virtual Programs offers online education, support, and resources for patients and caregivers. Through live sessions, you can learn about your diagnosis, what to expect during treatment, and how to prepare for the various stages of your cancer care.
  • Support Groups and Programs at MSK
    • The Social Work Calendar allows you to search for support groups and events by keywords or by narrowing down by category or date.
  • Connections: Our Online Community
    • Connections is an online community for MSK patients, caregivers, survivors, and friends to exchange support, information, and inspiration.
  • Social Work
    • MSK social workers play an important role in providing emotional support and guidance to people with cancer, as well as friends, families, and caregivers.
  • Spiritual & Religious Care
    • MSK's Chaplaincy Services offers spiritual care to address any questions of identity, meaning, purpose, value, and worth that may emerge during times of pain or illness, and which may not be expressed in religious terms.

Advance Care Planning

Advance care planning means making sure you have thought about and written down how you feel about your future health care. These written plans will help both your family and your health care team if you're not able to make or communicate future choices.

  • Advance Care Planning
    • This page describes how you can protect your right to make your own decisions about your health care. This means choosing who will make health care decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself, understanding advance directives, talking about your beliefs and goals, and documenting your choices.
  • How to Be a Health Care Agent
    • This is similar to the page above, but goes further about what you need to do as a health care agent, with a focus on communication. It contains information about how to talk with your loved one about the care they would want if they’re not able to speak for themselves.

Insurance or Financial Assistance

  • Insurance Information
    • MSK's insurance specialists are here to help you make sense of your insurance and payment questions, whether you are considering coming to us as a new patient or are already in our care.
  • Financial Assistance Program
    • If you are having a hard time paying for your care at MSK, you can apply for this program. In your application you’ll need to meet income requirements and document income, assets, and personal background.
  • Estimate the Cost of Your Care at MSK
    • MSK, like all hospitals, is required by law to provide information about standard charges for items and services. This page includes information about estimated costs, and a form to request a list of MSK standard charges.

Mobile Resources

  • Mobile MyMSK
    • You can access the MyMSK patient portal from any mobile device.
  • CaringBridge App
    • While not specific to MSK, patients have found it incredibly meaningful and helpful to share information about their cancer journey with friends and family.

Cancer Care Outside of MSK

As of 2019 there are 71 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers. These are places noted for their scientific leadership, resources, and research on preventing, diagnosing, and treating cancer.

MSK is one of 51 Comprehensive Cancer Centers, meaning we have shown an additional level of research across many areas that relate to cancer.

Look to this map to find different centers and explore their focuses.

Your MSK Library Team

Want to learn more about library support?

Library Home Page: the MSK Library provides both virtual and in-person resources and services.

Reference Services: the line to reach our Reference team to ask a question is (212) 639-7439.


Want to add a resource? Have questions or comments?

The content of this guide is a work in progress, and we'd love to hear from you to learn what features you'd like to see, and what information is most important to your care or the care of a loved one.

For feedback, please use the Feedback button at the top of the page, or reach out to the guide's creators: Robin O'Hanlon, Lindsay Boyce, or Kendra Godwin.