A new diagnosis of cancer can be a shock, making you feel overwhelmed and anxious. Getting informed can help alleviate these feelings. Remember, very few cancers require emergency treatment. You have time to learn about your diagnosis and treatment options, ask questions, and get a second opinion. This section is designed to help you address your initial questions before you move forward with your treatment options for your specific cancer.
By proactively understanding and managing aspects of your treatment, you can help ensure the best possible outcome from treatment and maintain some degree of control in your life. Things you can do to optimize treatment after an initial diagnosis would be to get informed, stay organized, discuss the effectiveness of treatment and work with your physician to select the best treatment for you. This may also includes considering cancer clinical trials as a possible treatment path.
As a patient, you must seek out various resources such as your healthcare team, second opinions, books, the internet, and other patients with your disease to fully investigate your treatment options. Most importantly, work toward understanding your diagnosis and stage of disease, goals of therapy, treatment plan, benefits of treatment, and possible side effects.
Following a diagnosis of cancer, the most important step is to accurately define the stage of your disease. Staging is a system that describes how far the cancer has spread. (Keep in mind that some cancers, such as leukemia, may not be staged.) Each stage of cancer may be treated differently. In order for you to begin evaluating and discussing treatment options with your healthcare team, you need to find out from your doctor the correct stage of your cancer.
Staying organized will help this process move along smoothly. Keeping all your laboratory and test results, admissions and consultation information and other instructions in a folder or three-ring binder will help keep all your information in one place. Make sure to store this in one location.
Don’t forget that fighting cancer is not a challenge you should face alone. It is a team effort that involves family, friends, and your healthcare team. Don’t overlook the strength that can come from having your support network by your side.
Cancer treatment varies depending upon your type of cancer, stage of cancer, and overall condition. Additionally, cancer treatment options may vary depending on whether or not the goal of treatment is to cure the cancer, keep the cancer from spreading, or to relieve the symptoms caused by cancer. Some cancers may only require minor treatment because they were discovered in its early stages while others may not have many treatment options because it is at an advanced stage or is aggressive.
Patients typically receive cancer treatment in order to cure the cancer, prolong the duration of their life or alleviate symptoms caused by the cancer and improve their quality of life. These potential benefits of treatment must be balanced against the risks of treatment. Some risks posed by various cancer treatments may include time away from family and friends, uncomfortable side effects of therapy and/or long-term complications. You and your physician will consider all of these factors when you discuss your treatment plan.
A second opinion is an important part of becoming educated about your cancer and your treatment options. The more you can learn about your diagnosis and your treatment options, the better chance you have of receiving the most appropriate treatment. Because of constant technological innovations in surgery and radiation, cancer treatments are constantly evolving and making some cancers more treatable. Getting a second opinion through other oncology physicians, will help you better understand your treatment options. It will also assist you in making better informed decision about which is best for you. Most importantly, it will provide reassurance to you and your family and ultimately allow you to receive the most appropriate therapy.
Obtaining a second opinion is a common practice in any area of medicine that is complex and has multiple treatment options available. It is a normal part of cancer management. There is no need to be concerned if you are hurting the feelings of your primary care physician as competent physicians will not be offended. In some instances, most insurance companies will insist on your having a second opinion. This is usually done to ensure there is a proper diagnosis and the best course of treatment is being pursued.
We accept most major health insurance and managed care plans. Please contact our office to confirm that your insurance is one we accept or check with your health plan to verify coverage. If your plan is accepted, a referral from your primary care doctor may be required in order to see our specialist. If we do not accept your health insurance, you may still be able to receive care from one of our providers by obtaining a qualified referral from your primary care physician or authorization from your health plan.
Special financial arrangements for services can also be made if your health insurance does not cover your visit or any of the treatments we provide. Please call our office and we will be happy to assist you.