Cancer Treatment Decision Making Process: Part 1 of 3
There Are Many Decisions to Be Made
Be Your Own Advocate AND/OR Get an Advocate!
The “C” word is horrible.
Cancer is horrible and scary. So what is the fuss about getting a second a opinion for cancer treatments?
- A second opinion after a diagnosis of Cancer is reasonable and is usually recommended.
- Oncologist are not offended by this (well, they should not be) especially if a patient is uncomfortable with the diagnosis, doctors and/or hospital
- A second opinion provides reassurance for the patient that they are doing everything they can to receive the best care and cancer treatment
Multiple opinions can lead to frustration. Even after a 3rd opinion, a full grasp of the cancer treatment concept can still be evasive and difficult to understand. It is important that in preparation for the cancer treatment journey, you learn how to become your own advocate, or be an advocate for a love one. Time is usually of the essence and reading a lot of information on a new topic such as cancer treatments, under pressure, can quickly become overwhelming. The Cancer Courses are usually a good start for patients newly diagnosed with cancer. Majority of the information was compiled using videos and you will find it very user friendly.
Let us take the time to review 3 of many possible scenarios, on the road to cancer control and understanding the best cancer treatment for you.
Where Is Best Hospital For Cancer Treatments
- Hospital X is famous for Pancreatic Cancer treatment but is located 500 miles away from your home, family, friends and support systems. What will you do?
In the Oncology community, it is believed that Surgical Oncologists, not just any Surgeon, should perform Cancer surgeries. A Surgical Oncologist is a surgeon who specializes in cancer surgery. For example; a general surgeon who perform mostly appendectomies, gallbladder removal, etc., should not perform the surgery for Pancreatic Cancer (known as Whipple or pancreaticoduodenectomy). In this major surgery, a portion of the pancreas, the gallbladder, bile duct, and portions of the small intestine, stomach, and pancreas are removed and regional lymph nodes are also removed to assess if the Cancer has spread. This would be called an “Oncologic Surgery” and different types of “Oncologic Surgeries” are performed for different Cancers.
What Should I Consider When Having Cancer Treatments Far From Home?
There are many pit falls to having a major surgery performed at a distance location (and conversely for having the surgery closer to home), but some large medical centers, or cancer hospital systems may be able to make provision for lodging close to the hospital for before and after surgery care. Consider family and friend support, follow-up plan and personal care in the decision making process:
- Will someone be able to travel and stay with you at a distant location?
- For how long? What about after the surgery?
- Will the follow-up appointments be at the distant hospital?
- What if there are complications upon returning home?
- Who and how should this be handled?
Be sure to explore all your options, and understand the plan best you can, if time permits
Will The Surgeons Talk About My Care?
They should! If the distant hospital is the most optimal scenarios, then you are strongly encouraged to explore options with the Surgeon at the distant hospital AND the local Surgeon BEFORE any surgery is performed. It is imperative (and the your right) to have both Surgeons communicate and formulate a plan together AND explain the plan of action before any treatment begins. We are in the technology age and there are many communication methods. Communication should not be an issue and patient’s request should not delay treatment. If at all possible, patients should have a plan of action in hand to share with family and friends and review and discuss before any treatment begins. As it is often said, “Doctor shop before, not during, cancer treatment.”
Remember, it is your life and you must become your own advocate!
The remaining 2 points will be discussed in the following blogs. What are your thoughts?
2. Hospital Virginia recommends a different type of surgery from Hospital Maryland. Which surgery should you choose and why? Are there guidelines?
3. Hospital Q in DC Oncology team recommends Radiation Therapy but Hospital V in Delaware said Radiation Therapy is not necessary. How should you approach this differing opinion?
Life is beautiful and God is awesome. And know, you are pure awesomeness!
Until next time,
Ipsa Scientia Potestas est ——— Knowledge itself is power!
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Queen, Your Family Friendly Cancer Doc!