How To Choose The Right Cancer Doctor: Six Things To Know

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Hearing that you have cancer can change your world completely. It can be frightening and overwhelming, but in the right hands, manageable. Whether the diagnosis came through primary care or the emergency room at your local hospital, your first step should be to choose an oncologist. An oncologist is a doctor who can treat cancer. The oncologist you select influences every aspect of your treatment. Like any relationship, it’s important you feel comfortable and confident regarding the expertise and approach of your cancer doctor.

If you are diagnosed with cancer, you should keep the following things in your mind while choosing a cancer doctor.

1. Talk With Your Primary Care Provider About Who They Recommend

Once the diagnosis has been made by your primary care doctor, ask the same doctor, because he may know the specialist who is the best fit to handle the particularities of your case. It’s OK to get a second opinion. The more people thinking about you, the better.

2. Seek Advice From Friends And Family

Seek advice from your friends, family or neighbors who may have had a similar diagnosis or experience. They can share pros and cons of their treatment plan and experience with an oncologist, support team and facility.

3. Consider A Doctor With Special Interest Or Expertise In The Type Of Cancer You Are Diagnosed With

The advances in oncology have been groundbreaking, and finding an oncologist who has knowledge of the newest therapies can be important to your outcome. You will likely be treated by a team of experts including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and oncology nurses. All of these work as a team to give you a best-fit treatment plan.

4. Investigate Clinical Trial Opportunities

It’s important to know what clinical trial networks the oncologist has access to. Clinical trials are often a way to gain early exposure to newer and potentially more effective therapies before they are FDA approved. The number of clinical trials may differ based on the practice or institution.

5. Consider The Cost Of Your Care And Treatment Environment

Care given at a hospital facility can often be more expensive than treatment at a private practice, both to the patient and insurer. Often, in private practice, physicians have more control over implementation of care and treatment options, whereas in a hospital system, decisions may involve non-clinical administrators and policies. Another consideration is the environment in which you are treated. Important to know is whether you’ll need to go different places for frequent lab work, physician visits and treatment, or all of these services under one roof?

6. Learn About The Physician’s Credentials

Where they train can impact their exposure to thought leaders in the field. Board certification is one factor to consider when choosing an oncologist. This may determine if the physician is up to date with current data and treatment options. It explains whether a doctor has the required training, education, skills, and expertise to provide treatment and therapy.

Here are a few questions you can ask to evaluate their credentials:

  • Are you board certified in oncology and/or hematology?
  • What is your experience with this type of cancer?
  • Who will be a part of the team that treats me?

A cancer diagnosis can be an overwhelming experience, and as a patient, you have the power to pick your team. It often takes being a self-advocate and spending time doing research on available oncology doctors. Despite the frightening nature of this diagnosis, there is usually time to do this. The team you pick can greatly impact your experience during your treatment and beyond. You’re entitled to compassion, kindness and empathy.

Dr. Jason Taksey was born in Silver Spring, Maryland. He attended University of Maryland, College Park, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Taksey received his undergraduate degree in physiology and neurobiology and graduated summa cum laude. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, where he received his Doctor of Medicine degree. While there, he received the Merck Academic Achievement Award. Taksey completed his internal medicine residency at Temple University Hospital, and his hematology/oncology fellowship at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Taksey joined Maryland Oncology Hematology in 2020 to open a new office in Annapolis, Maryland, located 810 Bestgate Road. Since that time, he has continued to care for patients with a broad range of hematologic and oncologic disorders. From 2009 to 2014, he was also on staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he participated in a genitourinary oncology clinic.

He is board certified in hematology and oncology. Taksey lives in Edgewater with his wife and two children.

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