Cancer is a word no one wants to hear. Unfortunately, according to BreastCancer.org, around one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, while the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation notes that one in nine Canadian women will receive the same news.
A cancer diagnosis is more manageable when patients have knowledgeable and supportive medical teams on their side. Taking an active role in one’s care can help cancer patients feel more in control. One of the most important steps a person can take after receiving a cancer diagnosis is to find an oncologist who offers the ideal blend of skills and support.
A doctor who diagnoses cancer is not necessarily the one who will guide patients through their treatments. Typically, general practitioners will refer patients to an oncologist, who specializes in treating individuals with cancer. Oncologists can be found in many different settings. Some practice in university hospitals, community medical centers or private practices. Oncologists stay up-to-date on all of the latest research and treatment options concerning cancer, which should help calm patients’ concerns about working with a new doctor.
Finding the right oncologist after receiving a cancer diagnosis requires patience. The following are some tips for cancer patients and their families as they begin searching for an oncologist.
• Speak with a trusted doctor. A family doctor may be able to recommend an oncologist. The American Cancer Society advises newly diagnosed cancer patients ask their doctors, “If you were in my place, which doctor would you see first?”
• Research cancer specialities. The American Society of Clinical Oncology advises cancer patients to select a doctor who specializes in their type of cancer. Find out if the doctor received any advanced training, and make certain he or she is board certified in oncology.
• Choose a convenient location. The location of the doctor’s office as well as the oncologist’s hospital affiliation may play a role in the decision. While some people will travel all over for the best care, being closer to home may be a priority for others.
• Confirm care will be covered. When a list of preferential oncologists has been made, patients must confirm that doctors will accept their insurance coverage to avoid potentially hefty out-of-pocket costs.
• Learn about different services. Some oncologists work with an extensive group of people who offer well-rounded care. These can include nutritionists, physical therapists, social workers, and specialty registered nurses. If this is a priority to you, locate an oncologist with such a team under one roof.
Once cancer patients choose an oncologist who meets their particular needs, the road to getting well can be that much easier to navigate.