I live in a city that has a huge research hospital for cancer. I ended up going to a different hospital network. One thing I asked was whether they would refer me back to the research hospital if they felt it necessary. My medical oncologist actually worked at the large research hospital before joining his own practice, so he didn't hesitate to say he would absolutely send me there and that they two hospital actually swapped patients back & forth for 2nd opinions or specialty care when the need arouse. I always thought I'd end up at the research hospital if I ever had cancer, but my cancer wasn't that "weird", and I think I may have been better off at the other hospital because I wasn't just a number -- I was sort of afraid of that w/the research hospital. Hope that helps. Don't be afraid to tell each of them that you are "interviewing" providers to make sure that you select the perfect doc for your team. If they balk at that, run.
Breast Cancer Questions
choosing an oncologist
Asked by mistyb on Wednesday, June 5, 2013
choosing an oncologist
I will be visiting with 2 oncologists ( 1 near to home and one 5 hrs away where I had surgery) next week to determine where i will have treatment.
What is a question that you wish you would have asked your oncologist initially?
What is a question that you would ask with the knowledge that you know now about treatment/side effects, etc?
8 Answers from the Community
I'd opt for the chemo itself as close to home as possible. Your consulting oncologist can be anywhere, and try to pck one that only treats cancer, if you can.
I would ask if they participate in Breast Cancer clinical trials, if they go to the yearly San Antonio Breast Cancer conference and/or ASCO (not many community oncologists do this).
My oncologist was pretty through about what to expect and what side effects I would experience. I just wish he would have told me to get a port, instead he was very casual about the whole thing. By the time I got one, my veins were shot. I would ask how long treatment will be and about getting a port.
On an other note - all things being equal or as close to it as possible, I would choose the doctor closer to home. 5 hours each way is a long trip to make regularly, and you would probably have to spend at least one overnight each treatment, I spent 1/2 a day going through the infusion process from soup to nuts, the actual treatment took between 1.5 and 2 hours, but there's a lot of waiting, to register, get your blood work, get the results, get the medication ready, etc. Chemo is exhausting, you would like to be close to home. Also if there are any issues between treatments you can get to the hospital where you are treated, rather then one that has to contact the center your oncologist is at to get your records.
If they are both saying the same thing about your treatment plan..... then.... Part of you decision is which person do you feel most comfortable with. Meet the staff at the infusion center you will be using. How do they treat the patients? Are they on top of things or looking frazzled? Are the people your are going to work with clinical or warm? Which of those types will best fit your personal emotional needs?
I met with 2 as well, one near home and one near where I had my mastectomy (about 2 hours away). They both agreed on course of action so I went with the one closer to home as chemo causes side effects that I didn't want to have to deal with on a 2 hour drive. I felt comfortable with both so I chose the one closer to home.
I wish I had asked more about the side effects of each particular drug. I ended up with some side effects that were not initially explained thoroughly. I did a lot of research on my own and talked to people who had the same cocktail as I did to see what they experienced. Of course, everyone is different so we al;l react differently. But I have some late effects that are affecting my quality of life.
I had a couple of choices close to home. Both had similar recommendations about chemo but....
The first one I saw seldom looked at me as we talked and when I asked to see the chemo facility he was unable to find a nurse to show it to me. Finally, the receptionist showed me some small, dark rooms. She was clear that I should not bring more than one person with me as there was just not enough space for that. Ugh.
The second one was personable, answered all my questions, going online to find the original research when I asked whether certain studies were relevant for me. She told me it was my choiuce whether to get chemo or not, and went online to get the numbers for people with my diagnosis who do or do not get chemo. The chemo facility was bright, with a wall full of windows and a couple of balconies where you could choose to sit during chemo if you wanted to. All the staff I met were great.
My decision was easy.
I hope yours is too. Like so many others have said, close is an important criterion, although not the only one.
Hi mistyb - I recently wrote an article about choosing your oncologist - here's the link: http://marnieclark.com/choosing-the-right-oncologist-for-you/ I wish I would have asked my oncologist more about the long-term effects of chemotherapy regimens. Hope that helps! Sending hugs to you.