Approach to Care The Facts There is substantial evidence that teams are more effective than individuals working in isolation, particularly whenever activities require multiple skills, judgments and experiences. When it comes to cancer care, studies suggest that survival rates improve for patients when they are cared for by a multidisciplinary team. Each patient is unique and has special needs that are different from other patients. Patients who are involved in decisions about their own care tend to do better. When patients are treated as "total" human beings by having their physical, emotional, and social needs recognized, they are much better able to manage their condition successfully. Some Considerations Integrated care Cancer care can be complex and usually requires the involvement of multiple specialists. If you can choose a care center that offers multidisciplinary care, you have an opportunity to get a uniquely effective and convenient approach to treatment. Here’s how it works: The specialists involved in your care get together – versus you having to see each individually and weigh recommendations separately. When all the specialists meet in one place: Differences of opinion can be ironed out on the spot More treatment options are likely to be considered You’ll get a more comprehensive treatment program that not only focuses on a physical treatment plan, but includes your emotional and social needs as well You become an active member of the team – you get to hear the discussions, voice your concerns, ask questions. Your team guides you in understanding your options, but you’re the ultimate (and very well informed) decision-maker. If none of the care facilities on your list offer multidisciplinary care, ask how the members of each facility cancer care team collaborate to coordinate your treatment and care. Individualized, whole-patient care There’s no such thing as a typical cancer patient. Ask the doctor how he or she might vary a standard treatment based on your own particulars – your age, general physical condition, emotional issues or preferences. For instance, if you’re a high-anxiety person you may want to know if a care center is willing to provide sedation during procedures that worry you. Ask about how they can help you sustain the best possible quality of life. How sensitive do they seem about any special needs you may have, such as spiritual or cultural issues. Inclusive care Patients should be treated as equal partners in the decision making about their own care and treatment. Find out how they educate patients so they can make treatment decisions. Ask if patients are given all treatment options before a plan is finalized. Family and care givers are an important part of a patient’s support and recovery. Ask what type of help the care center provides for them. Respect Does everyone on the team encourage you to fully participate in decisions about your own care? Do they listen to you? Encourage you to ask questions? Ask about your preferences about different kinds of treatments? Encourage you to seek a second opinion? Spend enough time with you? Are they willing to abide by your wishes? Communication Are the doctors upfront and honest with you? Do they make you feel comfortable? Do they explain things clearly in terms you can understand? Patient advocacy Is there a patient representative or ombudsman on staff? If not, how are patient complaints handled?