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Reliable Resources for Finding Specialists in Cancer Treatment

How to Choose a Cancer Specialist

Now that you have the reliable resources at your fingertips to find a cancer specialist, what's next? Going through the process of finding a doctor that's right for you can take some time, so try not to rush through this too quickly! Although you are probably anxious to get going with your treatment, it's important to find a doctor that you feel comfortable with and who you feel can provide the best care possible.
 
So what are you looking for in particular? You will want to find a cancer doctor (oncologist) who treats your specific type of cancer. However, you very well may have more than one type of oncologist for your treatment. There are three types, including:
 
  • Medical oncologists
  • Surgical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists.
 
The doctor you use will be based on the type of treatment you need for your specific cancer. One of the best places to start with finding a doctor is to get referrals from people you trust, such as your primary care doctor. If you know of other people who have had the same type of cancer you have, you can also ask them for some guidance.  
 
As you are looking for a doctor, try to find out as much information as you can, such as:
 
  • Where are they located?
  • What's their area of expertise?
  • What are their medical certifications?
  • What's their reputation?
  • What are the office hours?
  • Does your insurance plan cover their services?
 
One of the most important questions you can ask these doctors is how much experience they have in treating your type of cancer. If you need to have surgery, ask the doctor how often they perform this type of surgery and what their success rate is (make sure to have them define "success").
 
Some other questions you may want to ask a specialist you are considering include:
 
  • Are you involved in clinical trials for new cancer treatments?
  • What if I need to reach you after hours?
  • Who will I see if you are on vacation?
  • How long does it take to get an appointment?
  • Who else will be a part of my healthcare team?
  • Can the doctor admit patients to a hospital that's in your health plan network?
  • Does the doctor refer to evidence-based guidelines in deciding which treatment to recommend?
 
While the doctor's expertise is important, it's also crucial that you feel comfortable with this person. Some questions to ask yourself about the doctor may include:
 
  • Did the doctor allow you time to ask questions?
  • Did you feel he or she was listening to you?
  • Did the doctor feel confident in answering your questions?
  • Did the doctor communicate well with you, or did you leave feeling confused?
  • Did you feel that the doctor was respectful and spent enough time with you?
  • Did the doctor make you feel comfortable in expressing your wishes for your treatment?
 
Feeling comfortable with your doctor is important -- cancer treatment is a difficult road to travel, so you want to make sure your medical team includes people you trust and feel comfortable with.
 
The next step is to start setting up appointments. It may help to schedule consultations with a few different doctors to help you narrow down the one who is best for you.
 
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