Receiving a cancer diagnosis often unleashes a whirlwind of emotions and decisions, one of which is who to go to for treatment to cure your disease.
Cancer is best treated with a team approach. The doctor who diagnosed your cancer may not be the doctor who will treat it. But, he or she will likely refer you to an oncologist – a doctor who specializes in treating cancer.
While you’re trying to decide where to receive care and/or which doctor to see, here are a few guidelines to help:
- Ask about the doctor's credentials. Does he or she have advanced training in treating your type of cancer? Is the doctor board certified in oncology? How many years has the doctor been in practice?
- How many patients does the doctor see each year that have your type of cancer? Consider this number when selecting which doctor to see. The more patients a doctor has treated equates to experience. A higher number is a good thing in this case and doesn’t necessarily mean the doctor is too busy to spend quality time with you as a patient.
- Does the doctor have access to research therapies and clinical trials? Clinical trials offer the most advanced therapies to date.
- Is there a team of providers and staff that work with the doctor, including registered nurses (RNs), social workers, dieticians, and physical therapists? Will RNs be giving the treatments? Can you contact any of these people after-hours, on the weekend, or during holidays?
- Can your blood work and scans be done in the office or will you have to go to a different location? Will your treatments be given in the clinic, at home, or in another location?
- Does the clinic or doctor participate in your insurance plan?
At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, patients and their family members or support team are important members of the entire health-care team. As a patient, you should ask any question that comes to mind so you understand exactly what your treatment plan is and what you can expect before, during, and after any part of the treatment process. Your doctor and your health-care team will listen to your concerns and it is their duty to provide you with the information you need so that you feel comfortable and fully understand what is going on. After all, this is your cancer and your life.
Where ever you decide to seek your care for your cancer diagnosis, we wish you good luck and good health.