Tips to Find a Doctor & Hospital for Cancer

By DCode Care Team | October 5th 2019

Tips to Find a Doctor & Hospital for Cancer

Choosing your oncologist and hospital is a very important decision, we recommend you make the time to research your options.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you need to find an oncologist to begin your treatment. An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer. For most cancers, you can start by visiting a medical oncologist or a surgical oncologist. Choose someone you are not only confident about but also comfortable with.

Tips to find an Oncologist

  1. Look for Specialists: Look for doctors who treat your specific type of cancer e.g. breast cancer. You may need to work with more than one type of oncologists – surgical, medical or radiation oncologists.
  2. Gather Feedback: Discuss with friends and family, especially those who’ve taken similar treatment before. Online communities are a quick way to get feedback from others who’ve experienced your type of cancer before.
  3. Check the doctor’s credentials: Find out if the doctor has received any advanced training. There may be super-specialists available for site-specific cancers e.g. breast or head and neck etc., who have received dedicated training on treating specific cancers. If doctor’s credentials are not available easily, you have the right to ask for it from the doctor directly.
  4. Review doctor’s experience: Check how long the doctor has been practicing after completion of formal oncology education. How many patients with your type of cancer does the doctor see every year? In case of surgeons, studies have proven that higher volumes of surgeries lead to better outcomes / results.
  5. Find out hospital affiliations: Which hospitals does the doctor practice in? The availability of a multiple types of doctors at the hospital where you get treated is important. Find out what support staff is available at the hospital e.g. dietitian, counselor, home healthcare facilities etc.

Tips to find a Hospital

  1. Lookout for hospitals with lot of experts: Look for hospitals that offer a multi-disciplinary approach to cancer treatment. This means each you receive inputs from many cancer experts. You will be helped by specialists including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, oncology nurses and other supporting staff. Does the hospital have Tumor Board reviews – how often are they conducted and will your case be discussed there if you wish?
  2. Work with a major cancer hospital, even if it is far: Most experts in high-volume centers are willing to work with your local doctors. Usually, part of the treatment (for example, surgery) can be executed in the major center and the post-surgery treatment is executed locally.
  3. Research hospital’s Cancer volumes: How many cases of your type of cancer are treated in the hospital every year? High volume centers with multiple specialists available may have better expertise i.e. doctors and specialized medical infrastructure required.
  4. Consider Clinical Trials Availability: Do ask about clinical trials. Clinical trials are research studies that test new ways to treat cancer that you can be involved with. By being involved, you can help improve treatments and outcomes for future patients. Ask whether the doctor or hospital has access to clinical trials.
  5. Insurance Acceptance: Check if the hospital accepts your insurance. Check if the hospital has a desk that can assist you with claims.

Sources: Rogel Cancer Center; Cancer.Net