Whether you are considering cancer treatment, having another type of procedure performed, or may be giving birth, it is important to be 100% comfortable with the physician you choose. Having to undergo a procedure can be stressful enough, but having to do so with a physician you don’t have a productive working relationship with can add another level of anxiety. This is especially true if you are dealing with cancer. The pressure cancer patients are under can be alleviated, however, with the right physician. Not only can the doctor’s expertise be put to use on your behalf, but having an open, honest, productively communicative relationship can help put your mind at ease. Even if you’re not looking for a doctor right now, it is a good idea to understand how the process should look. After all, a woman in the United States has a 12.4% chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. While you may not be facing this challenge now, it is good to prepare just in case. Here are some things to remember as you decide who gets trusted with your care.
Interview Several Doctors
Even if you feel you click well with the first doctor you talk to, it is wise to consider others as well. It’s similar to when you’re going to be giving birth. There are so many factors, so many risks, that one doctor may check off a few boxes but still leave some important ones empty. And just like giving birth, making it past a cancer diagnosis, takes patience, time, and the ability to make adjustments. You will need a doctor that can both supply knowledge and expertise and these essential qualities.
Therefore, you should take your time. Talk to several doctors and take notes about each one. Note their strengths and areas of concern. Also, be fair to the doctors you interview. If you have a concern, give them a chance to address it. It may be a legitimate issue and a deal-breaker, but it could also be a result of a miscommunication or omitted information. It isn’t uncommon for a doctor to not mention a benefit of his or her services even though it is something they offer. Meanwhile, another physician may have brought it up, giving the impression that the other doctor is somehow lacking. If you have any questions, ask them.
Get Recommendations from Your Primary Care Physician
Things as serious as radiation treatment need to be performed with care and consideration. To use the illustration of giving birth again, while the procedure may seem fairly straightforward on the surface, there are many complications that can arise. Your primary care physician is a great resource as you begin your search. Female health has its own complexities and considerations, and your PCP is the one who is best suited to point you in the right direction. Breast cancer treatment can affect every person’s body in different ways. Your PCP is going to have a more in-depth knowledge of your body and how the treatment may affect it. This information could be used to recommend the right cancer doctor for your situation.
Check for Credentials and Areas of Expertise
Just as you would check the credentials of a contractor or plumber, you should politely inquire about the qualifications of your oncologist. It is not offensive to check whether or not a doctor is adequately certified and licensed. In fact, you could be negligent if you did anything less than ask these important questions. Also, while some doctors are well-positioned to treat a wide range of diseases and conditions, this is not the case with cancer doctors. There are typically a few areas in which a doctor specializes. You may find the best doctor for your specific type of cancer. However, it is likely that you won’t just stumble on the perfect doctor for you on the first shot. Ask the doctor how comfortable they are with performing the treatment. Ask to see diagnostic imaging. Also, inquire about situations they have dealt with in the past and their success rates. Even “small” things like experience in a women’s health center may provide useful information.
Keep asking questions until you feel comfortable with your choice. You and your body deserve the very best treatment.