Being diagnosed with cancer makes the world come to a standstill. Your primary care doctor will likely refer you to an oncologist to discuss treatment options. Going with the appointed specialist can appear to be the easy choice, but remember that you get to choose your oncologist. This doctor needs to be selected carefully based on their experience, training and reputation.
Cancer can leave you vulnerable. It’s important to choose a doctor that you can trust with your care. Let’s discuss the best ways to find the right oncologist for your cancer diagnosis.
Cancer treatment is a rapidly evolving field. The medical community is always learning more about cancer prevention and relapse, and new treatments pop up all the time. When a doctor has board-certification, it means they have expertise in treating a specific type of cancer.
Nothing is more valuable in the medical field than experience. Oncologists with decades of experience know how to treat specific problems and make good decisions for the patient. They can also think outside the box, so if one treatment is not effective, another can be suggested.
One thing that doesn’t come from the books is good listening skills. Doctors can become better listeners over time, but some are naturally more effective at tuning in to the patient. The best oncologists look deeper than the test results. They gather the whole story and connect the dots using this information.
Communication is another important quality. How do you feel when you talk to the doctor? Is the information presented in ways that you can understand? Are your questions and concerns welcomed? Your cancer doctor should take time getting to know you and clarify information that may be confusing.
Oncologists typically work out of one or two hospitals. Consider the hospital, as you may have procedures, tests and surgeries done here. You can research the hospital online to get a better understanding of its quality. Top-rated hospitals have fewer complications and better survival rates. Also consider the location of the hospital and its convenience.
If you’re not happy with your current oncologist, or you are just starting your search, remember that you get to choose your doctor. To help you find the right oncologist for yourself or a loved one, visit cancer.net.