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How do I Choose the Best Oncology Surgeons?

Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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There are a number of considerations to think about in the process of choosing an oncology surgeon to ensure that the most appropriate surgeon is chosen for a patient. Cancer patients may also find that it helps to ask for assistance with locating and finding oncology surgeons to reduce stress; friends and family members may be able to help, as can cancer advocacy organizations which provide patient support.

One of the primary concerns when choosing oncology surgeons is training and experience. Oncology surgeons offer a very high level of care for cancer patients. While general surgeons can and do remove cancerous growths, oncology surgeons have the benefit of specialized training and continuing education which is uniquely tailored to cancers. A good oncology surgeon should have board certification, and he or she should happily share information about where training was received, how long the surgeon has been practicing, and how much experience the surgeon has with the patient's specific cancer.

Another consideration is a surgeon's track record and success rate. While every cancer is different, and some surgeons may specialize in high-risk patients which can skew performance averages, it can be helpful to get information about how often a surgeon's procedures are successful, with data about complication rates, whether or not cancers are fully excised during surgeries, and how well patients perform after surgery. Competent surgeons should also freely disclose potential complications and risks of surgery, along with estimates of healing time.

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Reputation and personal manner can also be important. Publications of hospital ratings can provide general information about facilities and specific surgeons, and patients can also ask for recommendations from doctors, advocacy organizations, and other patients. It's also important to meet with several oncology surgeons to see if their approach to treatment meshes with the patient's. For example, a breast cancer patient may prefer to work with a surgeon who tries to preserve as much breast tissue as possible. A patient may also feel more comfortable working with a likable surgeon, which is another consideration.

Location is another issue to think about when making an appointment for cancer surgery. Local medical centers may not always offer the best care for a particular type of cancer, especially if it is rare or complex. Patients may need to be willing to travel for cancer treatment, including surgery, and in that case they may need to make arrangements for housing and support services. Travel can add considerably to the cost of treatment, since it is usually not covered by insurance and health benefits.

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