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How to Choose an Oncologist

Choosing an Oncologist Can Be the Most Important Decision You Make in Treatment

By

Updated July 08, 2009

Choosing an oncologist is an important part of your cancer treatment. You will be spending a lot of time, money and investing trust in this person who is responsible for your care.

You may be limited by location and insurance carrier as to who will be treating you, but you do have a choice within those limits.

Where to Find an Oncologist

  • Referrals from family doctor or insurance carrier
  • Word of mouth from friends and family
  • Online physician finders, such as UCompare HealthCare
  • Advertisements or telephone book

Professional Qualities to Look For in an Oncologist

  • Is this doctor board certified?
  • How much experience does the doctor have in treating your type of cancer?
  • Does he or she communicate effectively, ensuring you understand information about your care?
  • Does the doctor listen to your concerns and address them?
  • Does the doctor's staff appear to be compassionate and helpful?
  • Do you feel rushed by the staff or doctor?

Overall, you want to feel comfortable with the doctor and staff who are treating you. You will likely spend a lot of time with the nurses and other staff members, so being confident and comfortable with your care team is essential.

Questions to Ask Prospective Oncologists

You may want to ask the following questions to find out important policies that can affect your treatment:

  • What hospital does that doctor have privileges in?
  • Will you be seeing him/her during treatment, or will other oncologists be managing your care also?
  • What are the office hours?
  • Who will care for you in the event the doctor is not available?
  • What is the protocol for emergency situations?
  • How can this doctor be contacted after hours?

Remember, choosing an oncologist is one of the most critical decisions in your cancer treatment. Do your research and ask questions. Finding a doctor who is educated, experienced and compassionate is the first step in receiving quality cancer care.

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