Take your time to find a top-notch team of medical professionals who combine skill, experience, and open communication.
Although most patients are very frightened when they first hear that they have cancer and want to get started on treatment immediately, taking the time to be sure of your team’s qualifications from the start will save problems later on and will help improve your chances for long-term survival.
Choosing Your Team
Choose team members where
- Each doctor on the team is board-certified in his or her specialty. The American Board of Medical Specialties has a video that may help you understand choosing a doctor.
- If possible, the doctor practices within a large medical center or a comprehensive cancer center such as a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.
- Your doctors have expertise in colon or rectal cancer.
- Team members are involved with cancer clinical trials or willing to refer you to someone else who is.
- You feel comfortable and unrushed during office visits.
- The doctor shows an interest in you and is willing for you to be as active a partner in your treatment plan as you are comfortable being.
- The office is well-run:phones are answered promptly, calls are returned, appointments are made a within reasonable time, patients are seen without long waits, and all staff members are friendly and helpful.
- Hospitals where you have surgery or other treatments do many similar procedures each year.
- Your doctor accepts your insurance and admits patients to a hospital that accepts your insurance. Discuss these financial issues frankly upfront, including co-pays and other expenses that you might personally have.
Remember: The doctor who was ideal for a neighbor or friend might not be the best one for you. Check credentials and how well a potential physician’s communication style meets your own needs.
You and your advocate
You are essential in keeping the team working smoothly together. Enlist a family member or friend to help you.
At first, you may feel too frightened or overwhelmed to understand the information your medical team is giving you. An advocate — spouse, partner, or reliable friend — should accompany you to appointments to provide a second pair of listening ears and ask the questions you might forget. Be sure that you give permission for this individual to have access to your tests and records.