Once you have received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, the next step in the process is finding the best doctors for your care. There are many ways in which you can find the right healthcare professionals in your area for medical care depending on your personal circumstances, including the use of the internet, getting help from friends and family, and asking the professionals in the field for referrals. Utilizing these steps can help you determine which mesothelioma experts are right for your case.
Do an Internet Search
One of the best ways to find the right doctors to treat your mesothelioma is by performing a comprehensive internet search. This is the most common way of finding out which mesothelioma doctors are in your area and information about the level of care that they provide for their patients. There are many places on the internet that you can search in order to find the best mesothelioma doctors for your case locally, regionally, and nationally. Consider using the following to find the right medical professionals for you:
Review Rating Websites
There are many websites on the internet that rate the quality of healthcare professionals, including mesothelioma doctors. These websites often use a rating system, such as one to five stars, that rates a healthcare provider on various aspects of their care. Bedside manner, treatment options, ability to correctly diagnose and more can all be rated on these websites for each doctor that treats mesothelioma. Oftentimes, these websites allow the user to narrow their search using specific filters, such as the type of mesothelioma being treated, the type of mesothelioma specialist, or geography.
Look at Professional Websites
Many doctors that specialize in the treatment of mesothelioma have their own professional websites. They may host their own, or it can be a webpage on a larger site for a medical practice or hospital system. On these websites, you can see the specific qualifications of each doctor as well as the highlights of their career. This may include articles that they have published about mesothelioma, awards they have won for their care and service, and other indicators about the quality of care that they can provide for you. Professional websites for healthcare professionals can differ widely in the information they offer, but they can be very helpful in gaining a better understanding of the doctor that you may be interested in seeing for treatment.
Utilize References on Official Mesothelioma Websites
There are many websites on the internet that provide information and support on mesothelioma. Many of these also have links to doctors that specialize in its treatment. You can use these references as another way to build a list of potential healthcare professionals that can treat your case. In many cases, these websites tailor the referred doctors to ones that are already in your geographic area, which eliminates the need to travel far for care. You can also use information gleaned from other sites like the review websites and professional web pages to cross-check the qualifications of any mesothelioma doctor that is referred by a mesothelioma page.
Perform an Online Literature Review
In many cases, the top doctors in their field will publish academic papers on their work. This is also true for doctors who specialize in mesothelioma, so another way to research the top doctors online is to perform an online literature review. Research academic papers on mesothelioma and make note of the authors of the article. You do not need to be able to understand the scientific jargon of the article itself but check how often the same doctors are referenced or author papers on mesothelioma. This is a good indicator that they are an expert in the field and may be a good option for treatment in your case. In many cases, websites that publish academic or medical articles have a place where you can see how often other professionals are citing the work, which also indicates that the doctors authoring the article are highly skilled in this area.
Use Online Forums
One final option for finding the best doctors to treat your mesothelioma on the internet is to use online forums. An online forum is a place where people from all over the world can get together who have similar interests, traits, or characteristics and discuss them. There are many different online forums and message boards specifically for people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. These are great places to ask others who are in the same situation as you for referrals for doctors because you know that someone else has already received top-quality care from that healthcare professional. People who are on these forums are usually there to help, so this can be an excellent source of information in your search for the best doctors for your care. Online forums can be specific to the type of mesothelioma that you have been diagnosed with or to a specific geographic area, among other criteria.
Get Help from Friends and Family
Another method for finding the best doctors to treat your mesothelioma is with the help of your friends and family. Many people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are not comfortable or skilled at utilizing the internet in a way that would allow them to effectively search for the best care. Friends and family members can be a significant help when you need assistance in finding the right healthcare professionals for you. Your loved ones are also a great resource during the search for the best doctors because they, too, want to help find you the best possible medical team for your care.
Ask for Personal References
It may be the case that you are not the only person in your immediate or extended circle that has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. If you know someone, or if friends and family know someone who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma you could ask them for personal references. What doctors provide top-quality care? Were there any healthcare professionals that they were not impressed with or had a negative experience with? Personal references can go a long way in helping to build or refine a list of potential doctors to treat your case.
Check with Their Healthcare Professionals
In addition to asking friends and family for personal referrals from their own circles, you can also ask them to check with their own healthcare providers for recommendations on doctors that specifically treat mesothelioma. There is a chance that their own doctors may be able to refer a medical professional that specializes in mesothelioma that they know personally or that works within the same system. If they do not know someone personally, a healthcare professional may be able to provide a referral for a doctor that is well known in the field of treating mesothelioma simply from reputation. The medical profession is a much smaller world than many of us realize, so there is a good chance that some high-quality candidates can be discovered in this way.
Perform Simultaneous Online Searches
If you are not comfortable doing an internet search on your own or are unsure if you have found everything there is online during your search for the best doctors to treat your mesothelioma, you can also ask friends and family to perform simultaneous searches online. Compare results, see what sites were visited by each person, and what list of potential doctors was created from each search. If there are mesothelioma doctors that are rated highly that popped up on multiple searches, they are likely good candidates to treat your case. Simultaneous searching can also help narrow the field of potential doctors, as other searches may turn up information on doctors that you were interested in that is not as favorable as the information you found.
Ask the Professionals
Another way to build out a list of potential doctors to treat your mesothelioma as well as narrow your search to the top candidates is to ask the professionals. While your friends and family are asking the healthcare professionals in their circle, you can also do the same in yours. Once your list of potential doctors is complete, you can also ask the professionals to help narrow your list to the top prospects for your care.
Get References from Your Doctor
Your primary care physician is one of the best resources that you can use to help find the best doctors to treat your mesothelioma. Your primary care doctor knows your medical history and current situation better than anyone. They are often privy to other details about your life that may impact how far you can travel for treatment or what you can afford, and as such, they can provide you with referrals that specifically meet your needs. If you have a good or long relationship with your personal doctor, they will often be upfront with you about which mesothelioma doctors they know provide the best care and which ones may not be in your best interest to consider. Utilize their knowledge of you, the medical field, and your needs to help find the best doctors for your case.
Contact Potential Candidates
Once you have a list of potential doctors who may be the best to care for your mesothelioma case, the next step in asking the professionals is to contact the office of every doctor that you are considering. Request any information that they have about their practice and about the doctor specifically. If you have any basic questions about the office they should be able to answer them, and if they struggle to answer any of these questions or have no additional information for you it may not be the right fit.
The final step in this process is to schedule interviews with potential doctors that have made the top list of prospects for your care. Any doctor that you are considering for treatment of your mesothelioma should be willing to take the time to speak with you before you commit to their care. If any doctor refuses to take the time to interview you, that is a strong indicator that they are not the right choice for you if you want communicative care from your mesothelioma doctor. It could also be a sign that this particular doctor is so overwhelmed with patients that they simply do not have the time, and you must consider if that is the type of care you want from a doctor in your situation.
Preparing for the Interviews
Before an interview with any doctor that may treat your mesothelioma, it is important to prepare for your visit. Create a list of questions that you will ask every doctor that you speak with. It is important to ask the same questions to each doctor so that you can accurately compare their responses to one another. It is often easiest to write or type out the questions and bring them with you to each interview. You should also make sure that you have fully prepared to answer any questions that a doctor may have of you. This could include a brief medical history about your mesothelioma diagnosis, what medications you are currently taking, questions about your daily living activities, and more. Bring a pad of paper and a writing utensil to each interview so that you or a loved one can take notes on the doctor’s responses to your questions.
Questions to Ask
Asking the right questions of potential mesothelioma doctors is often the difference between finding the best doctor for your care or selecting a physician that was not the right fit for you. The questions that you ask should cover all aspects of your care throughout the process. They should include questions about how the office is run, their communication strategies with patients, their preferred methods of treatment, how often or easy it is to see them if there is an issue, and any other questions that you think are pertinent in determining what doctor is best for you. Some questions to consider asking include the following:
- How much experience do you have treating mesothelioma?
- How many mesothelioma patients are you currently treating?
- What are your related skills?
- Do you inform your patients about clinical trials?
- What do you think is my prognosis?
- What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
- What is the success rate of that treatment plan in this office?
- What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate cancer, help me feel better, or both?
- Who will be leading my overall treatment?
- Where will my treatment take place? How many people with mesothelioma are treated there each year?
- What are the possible side effects of this treatment, both in the short term and the long term?
- Are there other surgical or alternative treatment options offered here?
- If I’m worried about managing the costs of cancer care, who can help me?
- What support services are available to me? To my family?
- If I have questions or problems, who should I call?
- How responsive is your office to phone calls and emails?
- What resources do you recommend if I want to research my mesothelioma?
How to Choose the Right Doctor
In the end, choosing the best doctor to treat your mesothelioma is a personal choice. You can use the information that you gathered in an internet search, through friends and family, and with the interviews to help inform your decision. However, at the end of the day the best doctors for your care must fit your specific needs, whether that is cost, location, treatment options, or something else. Once the decision is made it is important that you follow up with that doctor right away to begin your mesothelioma treatment.
Repeating the Process
In many cases, mesothelioma treatment takes more than a single doctor to successfully care for your case. Oncologists specific to the area of the body where the mesothelioma has grown, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, and others comprise a team of medical professionals who will be treating your case. This process for finding the best doctor for your care should be repeated for every medical professional who will comprise your team. You want to be sure that the people who are caring for you during this difficult time are the best possible doctors for your care, which means performing a comprehensive search, utilizing friends and family, asking the professionals, narrowing the list, and scheduling interviews for each possible member of your medical team.