Discovering that you have cancer can be equally traumatizing to both you and your family. This is why it is important that you take quick action and find a good oncology consultant who can get your treatment started immediately. An oncologist is a medical doctor who specializes in studying, diagnosing, and treating cancers. Considering the traumatic nature of cancer, it is important that you find a good oncology consultant to help ease your pain. Here are a few pointers that can help you find a good oncology specialist.
What is an oncology consultant?
An oncology specialist is a medical doctor who has graduated from an accredited medical school and completed three year residency in internal medicine. This is followed by a fellowship of one to three years that involves training in oncology. To get board certified, they are required to pass an examination of their respective internal medicine, oncology, or hematology boards.
The different subspecialties of oncology include:
Gynecological oncology (diagnosis and treatment of cancers related to the female reproductive organs)
Medical oncology (use of medical and chemotherapeutic treatments of cancer)
Medical oncology and hematology (treatment of malignancies of the blood and blood-forming tissues)
Pediatric oncology and hematology (diagnosis and treatment of cancers in children)
Radiation oncology (use of radiation treatment of cancers)
Surgical oncology (use of surgical treatments such as biopsy, tumor staging, and tumor removal)
How to find a good oncology consultant?
The physician who diagnosed your cancer or your family physician will be the best choice for a referral to a good oncology consultant. Medical websites such as this one, online directories, local business directories will also have listings of oncologists in your area. Pick a few who are located in your neighborhood and interview each of them before picking the one who you feel comfortable with. However, check that he/she is qualified and board certified.
What you should take for your first visit to the oncology consultant?
Here are a few things that you should consider taking for your first visit to the oncologist:
Your medical insurance details and referral details
Any lab tests or imaging test results (such as x-rays, CAT scans, or ultrasound reports)
Details of treatments that you are undergoing
A detailed record of your symptoms
List of foods and medications that you may be allergic to
Anything else that can help in your diagnosis and treatment
What are the questions that you should ask your oncology consultant?
Here are a few questions that you may want to ask your oncologist:
What kind of cancer do I have and how advanced is it? It is always a good idea to get a second opinion about the diagnosis.
What kind of diagnostic tests does he/she plan to use? Tests may include a biopsy, blood tests such as tumor markers, endoscopy, x-rays, and MRI.
What are the treatment options available and what will work best for me?
Does the treatment require a stay at the hospital? If yes, how long?
What will be the side-effects?
What is the success rate of the specific treatment for your particular type of cancer? How many patients of your specific cancer type has he/she treated successfully?
Is joining a clinical research trial possible and advisable?
If you have been suggested chemotherapy, here are a few questions that you can ask:
What specific type of chemotherapy is right for me?
How many sessions will be required and how long will it take for me to return back to my normal activities?
What are the side-effects?
If you have been suggested surgery, here are some additional questions that you can ask:
Is surgery the best alternative?
What is the success rate of surgical removal for your type of cancer?
Will you require chemotherapy and radiation therapy after surgery?
What can you do for quick recovery after the surgery?
Most cancers are treatable if early diagnosis is done. A good oncology consultant will not only be able to correctly diagnose your cancer, but will also be able to suggest the right course of treatment. Finding a good oncologist can be time consuming, however, considering the disease that he/she will be treating, it is important to choose one carefully.