A cancer diagnosis brings with it a seemingly endless list of questions: which treatment to pursue, how to get financial assistance for cancer patients, how to continue to manage daily responsibilities and countless other concerns. Before getting to those details, however, patients need to find a cancer treatment center and assemble a team of qualified experts.
According to the American Cancer Society, selecting who will deliver the care is perhaps the most important decision cancer patients will make in their journey. ACS offers a number of tips for those exploring how to find a cancer treatment center that is well-versed in their particular diagnosis. ACS advises that one of the best places to start is with the physician who diagnosed the cancer, as he or she may have experience with particular centers or hospitals that would be a good match.
Even if the physician offers a suggestion, it’s important to consider several options in the quest to find a cancer treatment center. Patients should determine which facilities have specific experience with the kind of cancer they’re facing and meet in person with the team of specialists to have all of their questions answered upfront. Beyond experience, consider location, travel time and availability of clinical trials.
There are also certain standards that patients may want to ensure their top choices meet. The Joint Commission, for instance, has a thorough accreditation process that cancer facilities must meet. Those looking to find a cancer treatment center will want to make sure their potential picks meet the minimum accreditation threshold. The Commission on Cancer also has a comprehensive list of 1,500 cancer centers and tracks their accreditations, as does the National Cancer Institute.
Once patients have selected a site where they will receive treatment, deciding on a particular doctor or team of physicians is the next step. Again, experience is key, as are logistics like if the physician is within the insurance network and if he or she is board-certified, which adds another layer of experience. Like with the effort to find a cancer treatment center, it’s also important to meet in person with prospective physicians. While the individual’s level of expertise is the most important factor, he or she should also actively listen, be respectful, review all treatment options and prioritize the patient’s comfort.
Once a decision is made, it’s important to then come up with questions to ask your oncologist to set the stage for an ongoing flow of information, as the more informed and prepared a patient is, the more comfortable and confident he or she will be. Entering treatment can be a daunting task, but with a plan in place, patients can rest a bit easier.