To choose the best oncology specialist, choose a physician that is board certified in oncology. Seek advice from your general practitioner as well as other cancer patients. A doctor that is covered by your insurance plan is the best choice, but not always available. Financial arrangements can often be worked out, it is more important to choose a skilled oncologist that listens to your concerns and takes the time to explain treatment options.
Oncology specialists are responsible for a patient's care during cancer treatment. There are a variety of sub-specialties within the field of oncology. While some people being treated for cancer may only see one specialist, others may require visits from several. To choose the best oncology specialist, it helps to understand the job function of each.
Surgical oncology specialists are responsible for surgically removing malignant tumors. Most surgical oncologists complete a residency in general surgery. Some surgical oncologists choose to complete additional training. There are several teaching hospitals in the United States that offer fellowships in surgical oncology. After completing a fellowship, the surgical oncologist is recognized by the Society of Surgical Oncology.
A medical oncologist specializes in the administration and treatment of chemotherapy. He or she often oversees much of a patient's care. A radiation oncologist is responsible for managing any radiation treatments a cancer patient may require.
Some surgical oncology physicians specialize in particular parts of the body. A gynecologic oncologist treats tumors that are found in the female reproductive tract. Neuro-oncology specialists treat cancers that are located in the nervous system, or the brain. A urological oncologist treats tumors that are located in the prostate, bladder and kidneys.
Once a diagnosis of cancer is made, the treating physician will typically make recommendations and referrals for the patient. While this can be helpful, it is important not to give up total control of your health care. Choosing the best oncology specialists is one way to feel better about the treatment you are receiving.
In the United States, a board certified specialist has completed training and passed a written examination in a particular specialty. Additionally, ask potential specialists how much experience he or she has treating your particular type of cancer. If you are diagnosed with a rare, aggressive or advanced form of cancer, ask for recommendations to a comprehensive cancer center or teaching hospital. These centers receive funding from the National Cancer Institute and have the most advanced options for care.
Cancer treatment is expensive. If possible, choose cancer oncology specialists who are covered under your insurance plan. If you decide to go out of network, talk to your doctor. Many physicians will reduce their charges for patients who are paying some or all of their expenses out of pocket.
The last step in choosing a oncology specialist is the most important. Choose a doctor that you can talk to and trust. If compatibility is lacking on an initial meeting, it is unlikely to improve over time.