Choosing Your Healthcare Team

Remember that this is a very personal choice, and a doctor who’s right for one person may be completely wrong for another.  Here are some important things to consider in choosing your health care team.

Past Relationships.
 Is there a doctor or group of doctors who have been following you since your initial diagnosis and you’d like to continue seeing?  Or do you feel you can’t communicate well with your old doctors and would like to find somebody new?

Recommendations. Is there a doctor or nurse you trust who can recommend a good medical oncologist for you?  Do you have a friend, colleague, or relative you trust who has had a good experience with a doctor that can recommend?

Expertise.  Is your doctor a general oncologist? Is it someone who attends medical conferences and keeps up with the latest cancer research?  With advanced disease, you may feel it’s especially important to find someone who is up to date on all of the latest advances in breast cancer research and treatment. 

Type of Communication.  Do you want a doctor who tells you about all your options and leave the final decision up to you?  Or do you want someone who doesn’t go into too much detail and just tells you what he or she thinks is the best thing to do?

Approach to treatment.  Some doctors recommend many tests and combined treatments, while others prefer a less aggressive approach.  Since there is no research to show that one approach is better than the other, you should be comfortable with the approach you and your doctor take. 

Geographic location.  Are you willing and able to travel to a well-known center that may not be near your home?  Is the expense and inconvenience of this type of travel worth it to you?  Or is there a local hospital with a competent medical team that already knows you and is easy for you to access and interact with?


Type of Institution.  Is it important to you to be treated at a large medical center with specialists in every medical discipline?  Or do you prefer a smaller center specializing exclusively in cancer treatment?


Insurance Coverage. In some cases, your choice of health care professionals may be limited to a list of those covered by your insurance plan.  Check with your insurance provider and your doctor to make sure the appointments, tests, and treatments you will receive are covered.  

Key Members of Your Health Care Team
Remember also that different members of your team will be taking care of you in different important ways.  The following are some of the key health care professionals who will be treating you.

Medical Oncologist. This is the doctors who will most likely help you decide what course of medical treatment to follow.  You’ll have regular appointments with this oncologist to see how you’re doing.  He or she will tell you what tests you need to get to see how well you’re responding to treatment and will help your understand the results of the tests.  When a treatment you’re taking stops working, your medical oncologist will discuss the next best option for you to consider.  

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