Talking with your care team after cancer treatment - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute



Choosing Your Esophageal Cancer Medical Team

Finding an oncologist to treat your esophageal cancer is one of the most important steps you'll take in combating the disease.

By Diana Rodriguez

Medically Reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

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When you've been diagnosed with esophageal cancer, you'll have to make many important decisions, including who you want to work with in treating the esophageal cancer.

If you already have an oncologist (a specialist in cancer), you need to evaluate the relationship to determine if this is the doctor you will want to take charge of your esophageal cancer treatment plan. If you are working with your family physician and still need an oncologist, you have some homework to do.

Esophageal Cancer Treatment: Researching Oncologists

The first step in finding an oncologist is looking at your prospective candidates' qualifications and level of experience in treating your type and stage of esophageal cancer. Here are some tips to help you make sure a prospective oncologist has the track record to treat your esophageal cancer effectively:

  • Experience.Look for an oncologist who has treated many patients for esophageal cancer. The more cases oncologists have seen and treatments they have tried, the better equipped they are to provide advice and guidance along the way. Ask questions, such as how many patients with esophageal cancer the oncologist treats annually, and how long the oncologist has been practicing cancer medicine overall.
  • Area of expertise.You'll want to find an oncologist who is able to treat your specific type of esophageal cancer. Look for an oncologist who not only specializes in esophageal cancer but also works closely with knowledgeable surgical and radiation oncologists who may contribute to your care.
  • Education.Review the doctor's education, history, and other credentials: Look for someone who is board certified in oncology, and check what additional training the doctor has completed in oral, head, and neck cancers.
  • Clinical trials.Doctors who participate in clinical trials and other forms of research are likely to know the best and newest methods of treating esophageal cancer. They can therefore offer information about clinical trials that might enhance your treatment.

There are a few other things to consider in looking for a treating oncologist. Do you want the best doctor you can find, regardless of location, insurance limits, and other factors? Or do you want to find the best doctor who is close to your home, so that you can be near friends and family during treatment? If cost is a concern, you will need to look for a doctor in your insurance carrier's network. Your insurer or the doctor's office can advise you whether the doctor you are interested in participates in your insurance network.

Esophageal Cancer Treatment: Evaluate the Relationship

Once you've found a doctor who is experienced and credentialed, it's time to meet them. You will be working closely with this doctor during a difficult and emotional time, so you want to select someone with whom you feel comfortable and confident. It's important to choose a doctor who:

  • Makes you feel comfortable.You need to be able to ask questions without hesitation, and receive clear, thorough answers that address your concerns. Consider what personality type fits you best: Do you want someone who is matter-of-fact, or someone who is less direct but more comforting?
  • Offers other types of support.Look for a doctor whose office includes other medical team members that you'll need during treatment: a nutritionist, nurses, and a social worker or therapist.
  • Is available.If there is an emergency or you have an immediate, important question, you need to be able to reach your doctor. Ask doctors during your consultation about their availability; for instance, can you contact them when the office is closed?
  • Meets your needs.If you have language considerations or religious beliefs that may influence your treatment choices, consider these factors when selecting a doctor.

During your consultation with the doctor, think about how you felt during the meeting and when you left the office. Consider whether the doctor was respectful and if you feel that he or she took the time to make sure your questions were answered. Be clear during the consultation about what you are looking for, since communication with your doctor will be key throughout the course of your esophageal cancer treatment.

While it is important that your doctor be experienced in treating esophageal cancer, do not underestimate the value of a good relationship with your oncologist. You will need a doctor who can offer advice and guidance, answer questions, and be straightforward, but who will also be compassionate. It is well worth the time to find the right doctor for your esophageal cancer treatment.






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Date: 05.12.2018, 20:57 / Views: 84381