After you're diagnosed with cancer, you'll spend a lot of time with your care team -- the doctors, nurses, social workers, and other professionals who will set you on a treatment path and see you through it.
It's important to find a group of providers you trust and feel comfortable with. You want people who are experts in your cancer and will look out for you throughout the process.
Members of Your Cancer Care Team
You'll meet with many different medical specialists during your diagnosis and treatment, including some of these types of professionals:
- Anesthesiologist: A doctor who gives you medicine to relieve pain or put you to sleep if you have surgery
- Case manager: Usually a nurse or nurse specialist who oversees your care, answers questions, and helps you navigate your health insurance coverage
- Genetic counselor: Can help you learn your risk for getting cancers that run in your family. He can also help you decide if you or your loved ones should get tested for cancer genes.
- Nutritionist/dietitian: Helps you figure out how to plan meals and get the nutrition you need during your cancer treatment
- Occupational therapist: Teaches you easier ways to tackle day-to-day activities, like tips to simplify cooking, work, and other tasks
- Oncology clinical nurse specialist: A registered nurse who is specially trained to care for people with cancer
- Oncology social worker: Offers counseling and resources to help you manage your finances, work, child care, and other personal issues related to your cancer treatment
- Oncologist: A doctor who treats cancer. She might specialize in treating the disease with medicine, radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery
- Palliative care specialist: Doctors, nurses, or pharmacists who treat the symptoms of cancer, like pain, fatigue, or nausea, to make you more comfortable
- Pathologist: A doctor who diagnoses cancer with lab tests and by looking at cells and tissues under a microscope
- Physical therapist: Uses exercises and other techniques to help you keep up your muscle strength and mobility during treatment
How to Choose a Doctor and Hospital
The leader of your care team is your oncologist. It’s a good idea to take the time to find one you trust and want to work with. Your primary care doctor may be able to refer you to one or two. Or you can check with your insurance company for a list of covered providers.