With your cancer diagnosis comes the need for a team of care providers who will help you fight the disease. Among the doctors you may need are specialists in the oncology arena, including:
- Medical Oncologist: This doctor will manage your care by coordinating chemo, medications, and other medical aspects of your treatment. Typically, he or she will closely watch your blood, side effects, and other indicators to determine how your body is managing the treatment and whether the treatment is working on the cancer.
- Radiation Oncologist: This doctor will determine if radiation should be part of your treatment, and, if so, will ensure you are receiving the correct doses in the correct location.
- Surgical Oncologist: This doctor will perform the actual cancer removal surgery. Often his or her skills are localized to a specific part of the body, like the breast or colon.
Depending on your type of cancer, you may need additional support on your team, like a plastic surgeon.
A few tips for selecting your cancer care team:
- Consider selecting doctors that are located in one hospital or within one system. This makes it easier for them to coordinate and develop your treatment plan as well as access your medical records.
- Consider the physician’s bedside manner, knowledge, experience in treating YOUR type of cancer, and office environment.
- Ask for recommendations. Reach out to any doctors or nurses you might be acquainted with for their opinion. The medical community is tight knit, and those in the community will know who is exceptional.
- Get second and third opinions. While you’ll want to move quickly, it is critical that you find the team that is right for you.
- Do not second-guess yourself. If you have found a team of doctors you trust and respect, be confident in your decision because it’s what works for you.
At your first appointment:
- Bring a friend or family member to take notes and provide a second set of “ears.”
- Keep a journal to jot down questions and responses as you interview potential doctors.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as:
- What is the specific type of cancer I have?
- What type of treatment protocol do you recommend for the type of cancer I have?
- How frequently have you treated what I have?
- What are your typical outcomes for this?
- What can I, as a patient, do to achieve the best result possible?
- How long should I expect to be in treatment?