In today’s climate of health care change, it is becoming increasingly clear that you or your family member has the responsibility of advocating for yourself or someone you love. In the midst of a difficult diagnosis, you must construct your blueprint for your cancer survival guide.
The problem many cancer patients face is not knowing what the quality cancer care is and how to begin to understand if their care meets those standards or not. Here is a sample list of questions that you should be asking yourself to ensure that you are receiving quality cancer care.
- Is my cancer doctor board-certified? What medical training did my doctor complete?
- Do I feel comfortable with my doctor? Do I feel comfortable with the treatment plan?
- Do I hear good things about my doctor, clinic and the hospital from people in the community or other cancer patients?
- Does my doctor have a very good understanding of my whole situation and not just about the tumor?
- Was my doctor able to help frame the treatment discussion with pros and cons specific to me?
- Does my doctor discuss treatment options based on scientific literature?
- Does my doctor explain when a treatment choice is based on personal experience or bias?
- Does my cancer doctor communicate well with my other doctors?
- Is my doctor giving me the most up-to-date, credible information? The standard of care?
- Did my doctor explain whether or not I should be in a clinical trial?
- Does my doctor feel comfortable talking about alternative or complimentary therapies?
- Am I doing everything possible to optimize my recovery and healing? With my diet? My exercise? My emotional health?
- Does my doctor take enough time with me? Is my doctor so rushed that I only get the top one or two questions answered?
- Are my phone calls being returned in a reasonable amount of time?
- Do the nurses understand my treatment plan and simplify things for me?
- Am I being referred to other sources of information (i.e. websites, community programs, support groups)?
- Did I get a referral to a nutritionist? An exercise program or physical therapist?
- Do I know the things I should be thinking about down the road?
- Has my doctor’s office talked to me about the cost of this treatment or whether insurance will cover the treatment?
- Are there services available to help me pay for my drugs?
- What if my cancer comes back? Where do I go? Who should give me a second opinion? Do I consider a clinical trial?
- Do I understand my short term and long term plan and is it designed especially for my special needs?
Breast Cancer Survivor, North Carolina