Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Have Cancer: Now What?

I Have Cancer: Now What?

You have just been diagnosed with cancer. You may or may not know where to turn or what to do. Here are a few suggestions to help you take those first steps:

Stay Calm

“Cancer” is such a scary word, that it immediately makes us think of death. However, many cancers that are caught early can be cured if diagnosed and treated properly. Unless your condition is life threatening, it is wise to wait at least 72 hours before making any decisions about your treatment. Use this time to gather more information, inform the people you rely on for support, and prepare yourself mentally for the upcoming treatment.

Get Informed

We tell our patients that they should try to know more about their disease than their general doctor.

First, familiarize yourself with how cancer is diagnosed and treated (see our guide, General Overview of Cancer, on YourCancerFAQS and MyCancerFAQS Facebook pages.)

Second, gather more information about your specific condition. The internet is a great place to start, but please be careful. Some sites can give you very biased or misleading information. Reliable sites that we like are:
  • www.cancer.gov – this is a site run by the government and gives good, unbiased information.
  • http://www.mdanderson.org - The university teaching hospital that we work for. An excellent source of introductory information along with videos and links to articles.
“Teaching Hospitals”

We suggest that you receive your treatment at the closest teaching hospital near you. Why? To ensure the best treatment possible, it takes an entire team of knowledgeable doctors who communicate on the same wave length with each other.

Physicians in teaching hospitals routinely present each patient they see at a “tumor board.” A “tumor board “ is where physicians and their colleagues review each case and offer their opinions about the best options to treat a patient. That way, every patient can be sure that their best interests are kept in mind when making a treatment plan.

In addition, teaching hospitals, usually affiliated with a university medical school, also have a host of continuing education lectures and conferences for physicians that occur on a daily basis. They also tend to have a large amount of support services such as nutrition, social work, etc., that are included as a part of the entire cancer treatment package.

Find A Fellowship-Trained Surgeon

It is to your benefit to see a surgeon who has undergone extra years of training to specialize in removing cancers. Here is a link you can visit to see if your surgeon has been fellowship trained:

Check on Board Certification

Check to see if your chemo doctor and radiation doctor (if needed) are board certified. To become a board certified specialist, your doctor needs undergo extra years of specialty training, and then pass a rigorous exam. Visit this link to see if your doctors are board certified: http://www.certificationmatters.org/

If you need more information, please send your question(s) to me in an email to shalinshahmd@gmail.com or call (832) 377-5729.

Disclaimer:This blog is intended for education purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult with your physician for advice that is specific to you. This blog represents viewpoints that are solely my own, and not of MD Anderson Cancer Center, my employer.

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