Finding out you have cancer can be overwhelming for you and your loved ones. Experts advise taking the time to make important decisions and, if possible, asking a friend or loved one to help during these early days.
One of the most important decisions you will need to make is selecting your doctor (the oncologist) and the medical team that will support you.
What is an Oncologist?
An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer. He or she will guide every aspect of your care, so it is essential that you feel confident with this doctor’s approach and level of expertise.
Know that there are different types of oncologists. While there are specialists in various types of cancers, sub-specialists have very high levels of expertise in specific cancers. Sub-specialties have become more important due to the increasing complexity of cancer care.
Many sub-specialists work at City of Hope. These experts are well-known on the national level for their depth of knowledge in a cancer type and research focused on treating and curing cancer.Their expertise is often sought-after because it is on a different level than community oncologists.
If you are just beginning your search for an oncologist, here are some tips:
- Seek out a doctor who treats the specific cancer-type that have. Depending on your treatment plan, you may need more than one oncologist, including a medical, surgical, and/or radiation oncologist.
- Discuss your choice with family and friends, especially those treated for similar types of cancer. Ask about the doctors they have seen and their experiences.
- Evaluate the doctor's credentials. Find out if the doctor is involved in any research or clinical trials, which is very important for cancer patients.
- Find out who will be on your treatment team: registered nurses, social workers, nutritionists, pharmacists, counselors, treatment planners, etc. You will rely on your team for many different aspects of your care.
- Arrange to meet the doctor and the staff. These days, virtual interviews are more common than in-person. Have a list of questions ready for your virtual visit.
If you already received a diagnosis and have a physician lined up, ask about second opinion services. The best time for a second opinion is before your therapy begins. Our team of world-renowned oncologists and other cancer experts can work with you and your doctor in providing a second opinion. They will help you understand your diagnosis and the cancer treatments that are available to you. If you would like a second opinion, schedule a consultation by calling us at 800-826-4673 or request an appointment online.