Choosing Facility and Specialist

Your Step-By-Step Guide

If you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer, you’re undoubtedly in shock. Most people react in one of two ways. They either spring into action or do the opposite—they shut down. If you’ve done the former, our guide can serve as a road map to focus your progress. If you’ve done the latter, we hope the guide will help you feel that you’re still in control and that you have the power to play a critical role in your own healing.

Choosing the right health care team is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in winning your personal war with cancer. Their training, experience, approach to care and access to the latest technology and techniques will have a big impact on how well you do. And, they’re the people who will be with you and your family through all the physical and emotional highs and lows that come with this disease. You need to feel good about them.

So, let’s begin.

Step One: Questions to Ask

Discuss the risks versus benefits of taking the time to evaluate oncologists and care facilities with your primary care doctor. If your situation is acute and immediate treatment is necessary, you may not have time for extensive research. However, even if that’s the case, you can still ask some basic questions before starting treatment. More information about questions to ask

Step Two: Creating Criteria

Establish your prioritized criteria. We have some suggestions on how to do it. More information about creating criteria

Step Three: Create a List of Doctors

Create a list of doctors and care facilities where they practice that would be practical for you to consider. There are a lot of sources out there that you can tap into for help. More information

Step Four: Research and Narrow Your List

Narrow your list with research and phone calls. The people in the front office are usually very helpful. They may not have detailed information for all your criteria, but their willingness to give you as much as they can will tell you a lot about them.

Step Five: Meet With the Doctors

Make a get-acquainted appointment with one or more of the providers on your short list. (Ask in advance if there will be a charge for this type of appointment.) This is your chance to interview the doctors so you can determine who’s right for you. All other things being equal, good "chemistry" between you and your doctor is a big plus.

Step Six: Review Your Notes

Take a couple of days to review your notes and impressions. Discuss them with your family and friends. It takes some time to process everything you’ll have heard and experienced during your consultation and to let your intellect and intuition fall into line with each other.

Step Seven: Make Your Choice

Make your choice, but know that if you don't feel comfortable at any time—even if you've already started treatment—you can make a change.

Throughout: Be Patient

If you begin to get impatient with the process, say to yourself, “No one has more at stake than me. I’m my own best advocate.” Then find a way to be good to yourself - a walk in a park, a soothing bath, some favorite music. And then...just keep on going.