After you have received your cancer diagnosis it can be a troubling and confusing time. It can feel hard to make any decision let alone an informed one.
Finding the right cancer doctor for you is crucial, which is why we have provided this checklist to help you begin your cancer doctor.
Who does your primary care physician recommend?
Of course it important that any doctor you use is:
- Experienced in the field or specific type of cancer you worked in
- Covered by your health insurance plan (aka preferred provider) and has admitting privileges
- Communicative and speaks your language whether it’s how you talk or speak the language you’re most familiar with
However, get some recommendations! The first conversation with a medical professional you have will probably be the doctor who detected cancer in the first place. Ask them, who you recommend to a loved one in a similar position as my own.
What do the national and online boards have to say?
National directories and online review boards can be great if you feel you’ve entered a review echo chamber and want to expand the field, all for free!!:
- The American Medical Association Doctor Finder – has great information on almost every licensed physician in the United States
- The American Board of Medical Specialities – have an option called who’s certified which includes a bunch of useful information like a physician’s specialty, and location and verifies their certificate status
- The American College of Surgeons – offers the to find a surgeon option, so you can find out which doctors have your specialty, where they operate from, and their contact info
Some non-government sites that are useful include:
- Zocdoc.com – the great thing about Zocdoc is you can check on their site which insurance they can use – and then set you up with an appointment that same day! Great for getting in touch with an in-network doctor in a convenient way
- Healthgrades.com – the most comprehensive of the private review options they include 19 million doctors on their listing, with 10 million ratings on their database you can find plenty of helpful patient experience to pull from
- WebMD.com – with more than 127 million page visits a month the world’s number one symptom finder is now creating a doctor directory.
It is important however to remember that these websites often rely on private sponsors for revenue and so the integrity of some of their recommendations may be slightly dubious.
Meeting with your new doctor
As soon as you meet your new doctor some crucial questions may include
- Do you cover my insurance, can I confirm with my health insurance before proceeding?
- Surgeons: How many operations do they perform of this kind a week? What is their success rate?
- Is your doctor affiliated with a medical school – can signify they are a leader in their field in this area
Cancer can be treated in a series of different ways so it’s important to talk to multiple specialists before making treatment decisions. Does your doctor suggest radiation? Speak to a surgeon. Does your surgeon recommend surgery? Speak to your doctor next.
While it might feel like you need to make a decision immediately, get the second option first unless it is an emergency.