A diagnosis of mesothelioma is invariably a traumatic and emotional experience for both patients and their families. Coping with legitimate feelings of stress, anger and helplessness is difficult enough, and questions about what to do and where to turn will feel overwhelming. Choosing a doctor or medical team that is both experienced and trustworthy is perhaps the most important decision you will have to make, and it has to be made quickly.
Few primary care physicians are experts in the diagnosis or treatment of cancer. If they suspect that cancer may be the cause of symptoms, they will usually refer patients to an oncologist, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer. Oncologists, however, tend to specialize in one type of cancer or another, or in certain types of treatment – a radiological oncologist, for example, deals primarily with radiation therapy. Bottom line: Because mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer, not all oncologists are familiar with the disease or the treatment options that are specific to it.
Help and support are available to you in choosing a qualified and experienced doctor. To learn more about how to identify a doctor in your area who is right for you, please contact the Mesothelioma Options Help Center.
The good news is that experienced mesothelioma doctors can be found in every state. Most either work for or are affiliated with hospitals that have cancer treatment and research units. Their level of expertise, on the other hand, varies widely. While some may exclusively devote themselves to mesothelioma, the majority treat several kinds of cancer. And some doctors may have treated patients with pleural mesothelioma but not peritoneal or pericardial mesothelioma. It is therefore important to learn how much direct experience (and success) a doctor may have in treating mesothelioma before making any decision about your care.
Selecting Your Mesothelioma Doctor
Before choosing a mesothelioma doctor to manage your care, you should be prepared to ask a number of key questions that will give you a better sense of whether a physician may be right for you.
Once you receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma, the doctors that you have been seeing will most likely recommend that you put your treatment in the hands of a particular specialist. It is important to remember that you are not obligated to follow this advice, though it may be good and is worth checking out regardless. Before choosing a mesothelioma doctor to manage your care, you should be prepared to ask a number of key questions that will give you a better sense of whether a physician may be right for you. And you may want to speak with several experienced mesothelioma doctors before making a final decision. Here are a few good questions to ask that may help guide you:
- Does the doctor have the experience and training to meet my needs?
- How many mesothelioma cases has the doctor managed, and are they recent?
- Does the doctor use the hospital that I have chosen?
- Is the doctor part of a team of surgeons, radiologists and other specialists who understand mesothelioma?
- Does the doctor listen to me and treat me with respect?
- Does the doctor explain things clearly and encourage me to ask questions?
- Who covers for the doctor when he or she is unavailable?
- How long does it take to get an appointment with the doctor?
- Is the doctor covered by my insurance?
- Has the doctor helped enroll patients in clinical trials?
- Does the doctor support alternative or experimental mesothelioma treatments?
Additional questions can be asked when choosing a surgeon:
- Is the surgeon board-certified?
- Has the surgeon been evaluated by a national professional association?
- At which treatment facility does the surgeon practice?
- How often does the surgeon perform the surgery that I might need?
- How many of these procedures has the surgeon performed?
- What was the success rate?
Remember that it is important to pick a mesothelioma doctor who not only has the necessary qualifications and relationships, but who is accessible, will communicate clearly with you and will make you and your family feel comfortable.
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Fill out the form on this page or call us at (888) 891-2200. We personally speak with each patient or their family members and review the circumstances they are facing.