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Choosing a Gyne-Oncologist out of many

JMuffin
Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2004

Can someone please give advice about selecting a gynecologic oncologist out of many? And also what are some questions I should ask. I have been recently diagnosed with endometrial cancer, grade I. Thanks

SusanHolly
Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 2004

If you have a good regular gyn, perhaps it might be useful to consult him/her on which gyn oncologist he/she would recommend. In my area there are less than a handful of gyn oncologists, so I went to the one my gyn referred me to. A gyn oncologist who practices at a larger hospital will have access to the latest equipment and often teaching hospitals are on the cutting edge of advances. I think excellent care is available at many small hospitals too and aside from wanting the best medical care, I was concerned about commute distances. I had a hysterectomy for endometrial and ovarian cancer in December and am currently undergoing radiation treatments. I have had 21 radiation treatments with 4 more left to go and have had to drive an hour to the medical center Monday through Friday, so distance was a consideration in my choice.

groundeffect
Posts: 651
Joined: Mar 2003

If you're not going to an ob/gyn, you ask for a referral to one and consult with the ob/gyn about an oncologist. The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (www.sgo.org) has a "find a doctor" section, but you would do well to have a doctor recommended by your local doctor, then check for their name on the SGO site.

I was referred to an oncologist about 100 miles from home, too. There are no gyn/oncologists in our area, so my ob/gyn referred me (after dx of uterine cancer) to a gyn/oncologist in a bigger hospital, because he performs many of the same surgery(s) in a month.

Our city has a cancer center where I had chemo. I had uterine stage 1b and ovarian 1c diagnosed after the surgery, and it was decided that chemo alone would be appropriate for my situation. The cancer center could have provided radiation, if it had been deemed necessary, also.

I was caught off-guard when I was asked where I would like to have my follow-up treatment, and just threw out the name of the center without really knowing anything about it. When I got home, I got on the internet and checked out that facility, which turned out to be "the" place to do treatments, other than the hospitals. I chose to go there because it was convenient to home. You should look into what might be recommended beyond surgery, and check out your options for post-surgery treatment and examinations, too. I had no desire to drive the 100 miles for my checkups!

The Gynecologic Foundation (www.gcf.org) has these questions to ask for endometrial cancer:

What are my treatment choices?
What are the expected benefits of each kind of treatment?
What are the risks of each treatment?
What are the side effects of each treatment?
Are there new treatments or clinical trials that I should consider?
What are my chances of being cured?
How will we know if treatment is working?
How will each treatment affect my daily life?
What are the chances of the tumor coming back?

My local ob/gyn does my physical follow-ups, and my oncologist at the cancer center does checkups on my CA-125 levels and minor physical checks. Because one of my symptoms of the cancers was deep vein thrombosis (DVT), he also tracks my anticoagulent levels.

You should carry a notebook and take notes of your questions and the answers you receive, along with treatments that are given or proposed. It's not a good thing to trust everything to memory-especially if you're facing surgery!

grannyfranny
Posts: 42
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi. If you click on "Cancer Information" above and then on "Treatment Decision Tools," you'll get to a place where "Using these tools, you can access the detailed analysis of your specific condition, uncover a statistical breakdown of treatment types, and pinpoint the exact topics you should discuss with your doctor." Maybe that would help.

As for picking a doc, I agree with Susan and groundeffect about getting someone who does a lot of the same surgeries at a big hospital. The guy who was recommended to me turned out to be the head of gynecological oncology at a large teaching hospital. Just in case, I checked with a friend who's a hospital nurse and another who's a nurse-midwife, and both said that he had an excellent reputation. Then I met with him and felt comfortable with him, which is also important.

Do take a notebook with you, and also, if you can, take a friend or relative, also with a notebook. You'll end up with more questions asked, more notes, and more stuff that at least one of you remembers. If you do forget, or if you think of a question later, by all means call the doc. S/he is there for more than just cutting you open.

Good luck!

JMuffin
Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2004

Wow! Thanks to you all for such thoughtful thorough and prompt responses. This IS a great network!

groundeffect
Posts: 651
Joined: Mar 2003

GrannyFanny is right on the money-it's so easy to overlook the information that is right on the CSN site!

motahal
Posts: 24
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi JMuffin,by now you have probably made some decisions about your treatment. I am a 2-yr survivor of stage 1b, grade 2 uterine cancer. My OB/Gyn did the surgery, and since I had radiation therapy and not chemo, I never needed a Gyn/Onc. I am very comfortable with my decision, and still see my Gyn and my Rad/Onc for regular check-ups. I hope that you are doing well, and my thoughts and prayers are with you on your journey!

Mary

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