An oncologist is a physician who is highly trained to investigate, diagnose and treat an individual with cancer or suspected cancer. These doctors can treat many different types of cancer in various parts of the patient’s body. If you have cancer, an oncologist can make the treatment plan based on pathology reports. It will depend…
Choosing an Oncologist For Your Cancer Treatments
A cancer diagnosis can be scary, but finding the right oncologist can ease some of the uncertainties about the future. Locating an oncologist who a patient is comfortable with is a crucial step of cancer treatment.
How do you find a reputable oncologist?
Patients have a variety of options when it comes to locating the right oncologist.
Receive referrals from trusted sources
The diagnosing doctor should be the first source of information. They understand the patient’s medical history and can refer them to a doctor that specializes in that type of cancer. Friends and family who have had the same diagnosis may be able to recommend doctors or hospitals based on personal experiences. Dependent upon the type of cancer diagnosed, a patient may be referred to multiple types of oncologists, including medical, surgical and radiation, who work together to provide quality care.
Contact the insurance company
When locating an oncologist, certain hospitals, care centers or doctors may not be covered by a patient’s insurance plan. By calling or checking an insurance company’s website, a patient can see which locations participate. If a patient is on Medicare, the official website provides a searchable database of doctors that accept Medicare as payment.
Look for searchable databases
Many medical organizations also have the option for patients to locate an oncologist in the area online, regardless of the type of insurance. The following organizations have created searchable databases:
- American Medical Association
- American Board of Medical Specialties
- American Society of Clinical Oncology
- American College of Surgeons
What happens when you find an oncologist?
A patient should have the opportunity to interview or speak with a doctor before committing for care. Cancer treatment can be a long process, and to focus on healing, it is important that a patient has trust in the doctor and the support staff.
Meet the doctor and staff
While phone calls may be more convenient, meeting a doctor in person can help a patient gauge their comfort level more accurately. An in-person visit allows a patient to not only interact with the oncologist but also meet the support staff who will also be involved in the care. Depending on doctor preference, support staff can include registered nurses, nutritionists, rehabilitators or counselors.
Patients should feel comfortable asking questions about a doctor’s credentials, and the doctor should be open about experiences dealing with similar cases. The oncologist should be able to discuss their comfort level dealing with the patient’s cancer type, including discussion of any treatment risks and complications that can occur. With treatment, some doctors participate in clinical trials that allow innovative therapies for a specific disease. If a patient volunteers to take part in a clinical trial, the doctor can provide data on the treatment, its risks, and its successes.
A cancer diagnosis can be daunting for a person as well as loved ones. However, finding the right doctor and oncology care team is a positive step towards making informed decisions about treatment.
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