Hearing that you have cancer can turn your world upside down. However, taking an active role in your healthcare may help you feel more in control and give you hope. One of the first and most important steps in your fight against cancer is choosing an oncologist. How do you find the best oncologist who is right for you? Here are some important factors to keep in mind.
A Personal Decision https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/crop/1494x999%2B5%2B0/resize/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F79%2F50%2Fbca021c54525a0510f1e3f367dad%2Fresizes%2F1500%2Fimage-gettyimages-530685127.jpg
Start with a referral list from your primary care doctor. You can also ask family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. Take the time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. As you narrow down your list, call each oncologist’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the doctor.
1. Get Referrals https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/crop/5119x3424%2B0%2B0/resize/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2Fed%2F2e%2Ff52d6d7a4fe7b032699bcffa0824%2Fimage-getty-507831749.jpg
Board certification is one of the most important factors you should consider when choosing an oncologist. It tells you that the doctor has the necessary training, skills and experience to provide healthcare in oncology. Also confirm that the oncologist has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the oncologist’s medical school, training hospital, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and state websites.
2. Research the Oncologist’s Credentials https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/crop/1494x999%2B0%2B0/resize/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F9c%2Fb9%2F555bf15b4e58a77f8d50fa473d9b%2Fresizes%2F1500%2Fimage-man-on-laptop.jpg
When it comes to cancer, experience matters. The more experience a doctor has with a certain cancer treatment, the better your results will likely to be. Ask how many patients with your specific cancer the oncologist has treated. If you know you need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the doctor has performed and find out about complication rates—complications the doctor has encountered as well as your own risk of complications.
3. Consider the Oncologist’s Experience https://d33ljpvc0tflz5.cloudfront.net/dims3/MMH/crop/1500x1003%2B0%2B118/resize/580x388/quality/75/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fd26ua9paks4zq.cloudfront.net%2F9c%2Fd0%2F34de98f045e19fea0b55fa08d42d%2Fresizes%2F1500%2Fimage-gettyimages-200252820-001.jpg
It’s important to feel comfortable with your oncologist’s gender because you will need to openly discuss personal information. But your own gender is also an important consideration. Oncologists are becoming more specialized in caring for women and men differently. And some hospitals have treatment centers that focus on gender-specific cancer care. Ask the oncologist about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your cancer and your gender.
Your doctor’s hospital is your hospital. For this reason, consider the quality of care at the hospital where the oncologist treats patients. Hospital quality matters to you because patients at top-rated hospitals have fewer complications and better survival rates. Additionally, consider whether the hospital’s location is important to you. Frequent tests or treatment appointments may mean you need a convenient location. You want the location to encourage, rather than discourage timely care.