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Breast Cancer: Choosing Your Doctors and Hospitals

If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s important you take time to learn the details of your specific type and stage and choose the right doctors and hospitals for your treatments.

How to Find a Breast Cancer Specialist

Your own primary care doctor is a good first source. She can give you a referral. Your doctor should know from experience who the most appropriate cancer specialists are in your area.

You can also search on line. Look for reliable web sites such as the American College of Surgeons or American Society of Clinical Oncology. You can also look at the web sites of universities, medical schools, or the federal government. By searching, you’ll be able to find cancer specialists and learn more about your cancer.

Hospitals offer free and confidential telephone or online referral services for finding doctors. They give you information about a doctor's professional background. Insurance companies can also provide you names of cancer specialists along with referral requirements.

Researching Credentials

Once you have a few names, find out:

  • How many procedures or cases the doctor has been involved with
  • The doctor's areas of special interest or research
  • Which hospitals the doctor is affiliated with
  • Whether the doctor is board-certified in the area of specialization
  • Any fellowships completed in cancer care (surgery, radiation therapy, medical oncology)
  • Where the doctor was trained

If you can’t find the information, call the doctor’s office and ask some questions.

Meeting Your Breast Cancer Team

Cancer is a disease best treated by a team of experts trained in different fields.

A medical oncologist oversees the course of cancer treatment for most patients and also manages any chemotherapy patients might receive.

Surgery may be performed by a general surgeon or a surgical oncologist, a surgeon who specializes in treating cancer, with many specializing in breast cancer.

A radiation oncologist will develop your treatment plan for radiation therapy if it's required.

The team can also include plastic surgeons, pathologists, radiologists, medical specialists in obstetrics/gynecology and other areas, oncology nurses, pharmacists, social workers, dietitians, and more.

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