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Your Cancer Support Team: Who’s on Your Side?

Build the Best Cancer Support Team for All Your Needs

The Heart of Your Cancer Support Team: Your Doctor and Nurse continued...

"The essential part of picking a doctor is finding someone whom you can trust and with whom you can communicate. If you feel the doctor is being clear, and understands your needs, that is a good sign. Fortunately, there are many outstanding physicians around the country. In cancer medicine, as in most types of complex medical care, experience matters, and clinics or physicians with extensive familiarity with your kind of cancer can often provide care with insights not always available everywhere," says Burstein.

There are other things you should consider. For instance, see a doctor who’s been recommended, either by your personal physician, family, or friends. Also, make sure that your doctor has a lot of experience in treating your specific type of cancer. See these related articles about questions you could ask your doctor and about what to look for in a specialist before you begin to choose your cancer support team.

In many cases, your oncologist will work closely with an oncology nurse or nurse practitioner. You may find that you deal with your nurse the most.

"Doctors are often very focused on delivering treatment with a high degree of technical accuracy. Oftentimes, nurses who know the patient well will have additional insight into how the patient is doing from a broader point of view. That is why it is so important to have an effective team of providers -- doctors, nurses, administrative staff -- all working together in your care," Burstein says.

Ades says that for many people, the duo of the oncologist and nurse forms the core of the cancer support team. They should guide you through your treatment. Just make sure you know who they are.

“When they get diagnosed with cancer, people see so many experts so quickly that some don’t even know who their doctor is,” says Buckner. That’s a problem. If you have any doubt, just ask. It may seem like a silly question, but you have to know who is coordinating your treatment -- and whom to call with questions.

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What treatment concerns you most?