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How do I Choose the Best Oncology Center?

Article Details
  • Written By: Vicki Hogue-Davies
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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When faced with a cancer diagnosis, choosing the best oncology center for ongoing treatment of the disease can be a crucial decision. There are many factors to consider, including the track record of the oncology center in treating the particular form of cancer, the center's geographic proximity, what insurance plans it accepts and more. For people who already have oncologists, the choice might be limited to the oncology centers or oncology hospitals where their doctors practice.

Oncology centers can be standalone facilities or located within hospitals. To find recommended cancer treatment facilities, patients often turn first to the experts, their primary care physicians or their oncologists. Another possible source of information about oncology centers are public health organizations, such as the National Cancer Institute in the United States. Other cancer patients and cancer support groups also can provide valuable advice.

Possibly the first thing to consider when selecting an oncology center is what types of cancers it has experience treating and what the success rates have been. Access to clinical research trials and providing a comprehensive range of services from screening to treatment to palliative care are important. Having oncology nurses and board-certified oncology surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and hematologists on staff is important. Having the most advanced radiological and other medical equipment also is important.

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Geographic location is an important consideration when choosing an oncology center. Chemotherapy, radiation and other cancer treatments are difficult enough on cancer patients without having to factor extensive travel into the mix. Look for an oncology center that is as close to home as possible.

Whether the center is approved by a reputable accrediting body can help discern the quality of care patients receive. In line with its accreditation status, it is helpful to know what government and consumer groups have to say about the center. Also, look for a facility that periodically reviews and seeks to upgrade its quality of care.

Helping alleviate the stress the cancer patient and their families are experiencing by providing a variety of support services is important. These services might include psychologists and counselors, support groups and religious clergy. Offering holistic treatment information along with traditional medical services also is the mark of a facility that considers the total patient.

Another item to consider, but not necessarily to be limited by, is what health insurance plans the center accepts. Cancer treatment is very expensive, so selecting a top oncology center within the patient's insurance network is ideal. If this is not possible or the patient does not have insurance, finding a center that offers financial support options might be necessary.

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