If you have been diagnosed with cancer, finding a doctor and treatment facility for your cancer care is an important step to getting the best treatment possible. Texas Cancer Connect maintains a cancer care provider directory to help cancer patients find a doctor or cancer center specializing in cancer care throughout Texas. Doctors in the Directory are identified as those specializing in:
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Medical Oncology: Medical oncologists are doctors that specialize in the non-surgical management of all cancers. Medical oncologists treat cancer and manage the patient's course of treatment.
Hematology: Hematologists are doctors that specialize in blood diseases and cancers of the blood.
Cancer of the Head and Neck: Otolaryngologists specialize in the treatment of cancer of the head and neck.
Gynecologic Cancers: Gynecologic oncologists specialize in the surgical and medical management of cancer of the female reproductive organs
Stem Cell Transplant Specialists: Specialize in performing stem cell transplants as a treatment of cancer.
Pediatric Cancers: Pediatric oncologists specialize in the management of all cancers in children.
Radiation Oncology: Radiation oncologists specialize in the use of radiation to treat cancer.
Urology: Urologists specialize in the surgical treatment of kidney, bladder, and prostate cancer, and other cancers of the genitourinary system.
Breast Surgery: Specialize in the surgical management of breast cancer including reconstruction.
Colon-Rectal Surgery: Specialize in the surgical treatment of Colon and Rectal Cancers.
Dermatology: Specialize in management of skin cancers and disorders confined to the skin.
Diagnostic Radiology: Specialize in Mammography and other diagnostic imaging techniques.
Choosing a Doctor and Getting High-quality Care
If you're like most people who have been diagnosed with cancer, you want to receive the best care possible. This means understanding your disease and its treatment, and finding a doctor and cancer clinic that can provide you with the best care possible. The following tips can help guide your search for the best cancer care:
1. Understand Your Diagnosis
The most important step is to find out as much specific information as you can about the details of your cancer diagnosis. All cancer treatment information is discussed by cancer type and stage. Knowing the type and stage of cancer can help you search for relevant information and find the best doctor and clinic. Once you understand your diagnosis, a next step is to learn about standard treatment options for your type and stage of cancer. If your doctor offers you a treatment plan that is inconsistent with what you've learned from your research, you may not be able to assess on your own whether it's a better or worse approach, but it will allow you to initiate informed discussions with your doctor and to seek a second opinion.
2. Get Input from People You Trust
As you begin research into your diagnosis and treatment, you may also want to ask people you trust for a physician referral. For example, your primary care doctor or a local oncologist may be able to refer you to an expert in your type of cancer.
3. Get the Care That Your Diagnosis Requires
Keep in mind that although many doctors will be able to provide high-quality cancer care, those who focus on your specific type of cancer may have important additional expertise. Finding a physician who focuses on your particular type of cancer may require some travel and visiting a large cancer center. In particular, patients considering a stem cell transplant, diagnosed with rare cancers, or requiring specialized treatment or surgery may benefit from highly specialized care. Studies show that physicians and cancer programs that have a focused interest on a specific treatment or cancer tend to produce better treatment outcomes.
4. Consider a Second Opinion
Another step that many cancer patients take when selecting a doctor is to get a second opinion. Second opinions are a common practice in any area of medicine that is complex and that has multiple treatment options. Getting a second opinion allows patients to become more informed about their cancer and treatment options and also provides reassurance. For tips on when to seek a second opinion, go to When to Seek a Second Opinion.
5. Be Comfortable with Your Choice
In addition to finding a doctor with expertise in your type of cancer and pursuing a second opinion if you choose, keep in mind the value of finding a doctor with whom you feel comfortable. Some patients, for example, believe strongly in the role that complementary and alternative medicine plays in treatment. When choosing a doctor, these patients will need to consider how much it matters to them that their doctor either does or does not endorse those beliefs.
6. Understanding Physician Training and Credentials
When choosing a doctor for your cancer care, you may find it helpful to know some of the terms used to describe a doctor's training and credentials. Most physicians who treat people with cancer are medical doctors (they have an M.D. degree) or osteopathic doctors (they have a D.O. degree). The basic training for both types of physicians includes 4 years of premedical education at a college or university, 4 years of medical school to earn an M.D. or D.O. degree, and postgraduate medical education through internships and residences. This training usually lasts 3 to 7 years. Physicians must pass an exam to become licensed (legally permitted) to practice medicine in their state. Each state or territory has its own procedures and general standards for licensing physicians.
Specialists are physicians who have completed their residency training in a specific area, such as internal medicine. Independent specialty boards certify physicians after they have fulfilled certain requirements. These requirements include meeting specific education and training criteria, being licensed to practice medicine, and passing an examination given by the specialty board. Doctors who have met all of the requirements are given the status of "Diplomate" and are board-certified as specialists. Doctors who are board-eligible have obtained the required education and training, but have not completed the specialty board examination.
After being trained and certified as a specialist, a physician may choose to become a subspecialist. A subspecialist has at least one additional year of full-time education in a particular area of a specialty. This training is designed to increase the physician's expertise in a specific field. Specialists can be board-certified in their subspecialty as well.