Cancer patients need a professional oncologist to help them manage their health. That holds true no matter what type of cancer they have, or what stage the cancer is currently in. It’s never too early to get professional help — in fact, the sooner the patient gets a dedicated oncologist, the better.
Oncologists have specific medical training and experience in dealing with these situations and will help you get by as comfortably as possible. Nonetheless, while it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that medical professionals are all the same, they are still individuals. Individuals who will have different approaches, personalities, and treatment philosophies, even while still confined to the ethical and professional standards of the medical professional.
This means that finding the right oncologist can have a big impact on how your treatment will go. And if that’s a challenge you’re about to tackle, here are some tips that will help you pick the right professional in line with your care and treatment needs.
1. Check your insurance coverage
The cost of medical care in the US is very high and it can have a huge impact on your finances. Cancer treatment, in particular, is a huge financial undertaking and as such, it helps if you have comprehensive insurance coverage.
There will also be out-of-pocket expenses here and there. But with good insurance, at least such expenses will be manageable.
If you do have insurance, then the first place to start looking is to check which oncologists in your area are covered by your health insurance provider.
It is also a good idea to review your coverage to see how coverage limits may affect the type of care you get at that particular cancer treatment center. In most cases, you want to choose a hospital where you can get the most out of your coverage. That will help keep the financial costs associated with cancer treatment under control.
2. Consider the location
It’s always nice to choose an oncologist that practices fairly close to you. Hospital visits, especially for cancer patients, can be very tiring. The last thing you need is having to travel for hours before and after treatment.
Look through some of the hospitals in your area and see if they have an oncologist in place. Although you are not guaranteed to find an oncologist near you, it’s such a convenient thing if you do. However, make sure that the standards of quality even in hospitals close to you are very high.
If not, it’s best to travel further to find specialists who have enough expertise and experience to deal with your health issues.
You can get a sense of the local standards of care by checking the reputation of their on-staff oncologists, and by looking for patient reviews online. If you have never tried looking up hospital reviews before, it’s a good idea to compare different hospitals and their reviews before making a judgment.
It’s perfectly normal for every hospital to have a few terrible reviews. It’s only when comparing the reviews of that hospital to others in your region that you can get a sense of whether or not any given hospital has a worst-than-average review score. It’s also a good idea to put less weight on reviews that are over 5 years old, as the staff on hospitals change often, and any old reviews may no longer be indicative of the current situation.
3 Prioritize experience
At the end of the day, the most important thing for any patient would be to get the best care possible.
Even if you have to pay a bit extra for this and travel extra miles, so be it. The experience and reputation of the oncologist have to be the two most important priorities you look at as a patient.
Also, try to focus on specific experiences. Although generally oncologists are trained to deal with cancer, they also specialize in different types of cancer. So, it would be best to pick a practitioner with specific experience with your type of cancer. That way, they will know what to do with your situation.
Depending on how unique your case is, you might even have to look out of state for the best possible treatment. Remember that you don’t have to figure out yourself who the best doctors for your specific case are. A local oncologist should be able to point you in the direction of the specialists who are a better match for your case.
4. Don’t forget the human element
Being sick is hard and of all the sicknesses, cancer is probably one of the most emotionally draining. If you are looking down the barrel of a potentially years-long cancer treatment, your only concerns shouldn’t be just your body and your wallet. Your mental health, and that of your family, will also take a hit, and also need support.
This means it’s a good idea to take the human element into consideration when choosing an oncologist. If you have more than one potential candidate in mind, book a consultation with all of them. Get a sense of how you felt about them — did they make you feel comfortable, did they inspire confidence, did you like their office or their staff?
Beggars can’t be choosers and any oncologist will be better than no oncologist at all. But if you are lucky enough to have different qualified candidates to pick from, choose the one that made you feel comfortable, the one that inspired trust. It will be much easier to deal with the journey ahead if you feel like you are in good hands.
While there is no replacing a good oncologist, there are things you can do to seek relief in between oncology appointments. For example, there are some patients who have found relief in alternative cancer treatment centers across the US. These centers are typically associated with holistic care approaches.
You can visit this page to learn more about the best alternative cancer treatment centers and how they can help you cope with your cancer diagnosis in the best way possible.