Receiving a positive cancer diagnosis can cause a whirlwind of emotions. All of the stress in your daily life like family, work, and finances, is now doubled by your ill health. Choosing a primary care provider is already hard enough, but now you have to choose the doctor that is going to treat your cancer. Here, we have compiled a few tips for you to follow to ensure you find the oncologist and center for cancer care that is best for you.
There are three different types of oncologists, medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, and radiation oncologists. With each often specializing in different types of cancer and offering different treatment plans, you are sure to find an oncologist that specializes in whichever form of cancer you have and can help you to form a treatment plan you are comfortable undergoing.
A medical oncologist will treat your cancer using different medications and chemotherapy. Some other forms of therapy they may use to treat can include biological therapy, hormonal therapy, and targeted therapy—which targets the specific proteins, or genes that lead to cancer.
A medical oncologist will likely become your primary doctor throughout your cancer treatments, although they may enlist help from other specialists.
Surgical oncologists will use surgery to treat and try to remove the cancerous tumors from the affected areas. Even in the event that they are unable to effectively remove cancer, undergoing surgery will help your oncology team to diagnose the type of cancer you have, determine what stage your cancer is at, and further develop your treatment plan.
A radiation oncologist specializes in the use of radiation therapy, sometimes known as radiotherapy, and will rely on the use of radiation to treat cancer. Radiation oncologists may work in tandem with medical oncologists or surgical oncologists in order to best treat your cancer.
Other than the type of oncologist you wish to work with, it is important to check your insurance coverage to see which oncologists or facilities they are in-network with. The two easiest ways you can find this out by either calling your doctor’s office directly or speaking with your insurance carrier. Be sure to keep in mind that even though a doctor you are in-network with may be working at multiple offices, not all of those offices may be in-network with insurance.
After you have considered all your options regarding the type of oncologist best equipped to handle your care as well as the type of coverage you have, it is time to turn to your friends and family. Getting oncology recommendations from your doctors is a great place to start, but speaking with those who have been in your position will help you gain better insight into the patient side of things. Do you want a doctor who will try to get to know you, or to strictly maintain a patient-doctor relationship? Do you want to undergo just one type of treatment or are you willing to undergo a few simultaneously? By speaking to those around you who have undergone cancer treatment, you can have a better idea of what to expect before ever beginning treatment.
If all else fails and you end up with too many viable options to choose from, conduct some further research on your possible oncologists by using a database that will allow you to research everything from criminal records, to licensure. By doing this you will be able to see any malpractice suits they may have been in or any current cases. Doing this simple search will help you have peace of mind when choosing the person to treat your illness.