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How to choose between two oncologists?

Posts: 28
Joined: Feb 2011

My mom saw an oncologist last Friday and they talked about her treatment. The oncologist told that she has breast cancer with lung and spine mets. He told her that he prefers that she starts with chemotherapy not radiation since the cancer has already spread to the lungs and the spine. He was still waiting for more tissue test results and asked her to do a mammogram. I am not sure why the MRI didn't show any cancer in her breasts. She received the rest of her tests today and is going to see tomorrow another oncologist who is specialized in breast cancer. I am not sure now how to choose between the two oncologists. One oncologist is very close to where she lives and the second one is almost an hour from where she lives but he looks like he is more specialized in treating breast cancer. If both recommended that she starts with chemotherapy, what else should be looking at to choose between the two oncologists. Any advice?.Thank you.

Gabe N Abby Mom's picture
Gabe N Abby Mom
Posts: 2415
Joined: Sep 2010

Some of the other things I would look at...

the treatment center. Which is the better facility, not just closer. But look at waiting rooms, rest rooms, etc. My thought is if the waiting room is a mess, the equipment probably is too. Are rads and chemo done at the same center? What other services do they offer...nutritionist? social worker?

the other staff. Are all the people you encounter nice, professional, courteous, etc? What happens if your doc is out of town? Are there other onc's who can fill in for one visit if needed?

after hours access. How do you or mom contact someone if you have after hours questions/needs?

personality. All other things being equal, which doctor does your mom like/trust more?

I hope this helps and I'm sorry you have the need to find us. Please come back and let us know how you and your mom are doing.



Posts: 3600
Joined: Aug 2009

I agree with all Linda gave you.

Go with the one that your Mom feels the most comfortable with - that goes a long way. I never got a second opinion - I liked Dr. T and felt comfortable with him. I'm not real wild about his RN though - She's never done anything 'bad' - it may be just her voice but she sounds like she's talking to a small child or a feeble minded old person - I am old (64) but far from feeble minded.

Take a note book with you tomorrow to the appt. - write down the answers you get to questions or what he tells you is the recommended treatment. You will hear a lot more than you can remember in such as short time. Also ask for printed material (they should have all sorts)dealing with the type of BC she's dealing with and info about the treatment.

Chemo before rads is quite common - I had been through 2 different batches of Chemo (4 before surgery and 12 after) before Rads.

Please come with your question - get your Mom to come here - someone here has almost always got some input/knowledge to help ya'll.


Posts: 826
Joined: Jun 2007

Here are some more thoughts:
Ask each Dr. for a list of current/former patients you might call for comments.

Take a list of questions, see which one gives you the best answers that your Mom can communicate the best with.

See which one your insurance will cover.

Search the Dr's name and/or facility online to see what info. there is.

Ask your local ACS if they have information about either one.

I agree with the idea that...all things being equal...go with the one your Mom is comfortable with.

best wishes, seof

Posts: 398
Joined: Nov 2010

I've learned the hard way that you can find great info on the internet about qualifications, associations, medical schools and other people's opinions. When I was choosing a radiologist (my original one had moved to another state and was heading the entire group), I discovered his replacement had only one listing on the internet--his mug shot from an arrest on domestic violence charges!!! I quickly canceled my appointment and asked my surgeon & onc for their recommendation.
Just a thought...
Good luck,

Posts: 28
Joined: Feb 2011

So my mom saw the second oncologist today. He went through all the tests that she has already done and examined her. He told her that it is not clear for him yet that she has a breast cancer not lung or bone cancer.The mammogram showed only a small nodule in her breast. The biopsy report is not very clear for him and there are still more tests that want her to do. He argued that she can not start chemotherapy as advised by the other oncologist until he is very sure where the primary cancer is located ( The other oncologist confirmed that she has breast cancer) . He promised that after she does the new tests he will be able to diagnose her case very accurately and will tell her the treatment plan.
My mom started feeling pain in her back 4 months ago and took them 4 months to diagnose that she has cancer. She had part of the tumor removed from her back almost two weeks ago and since then we have been waiting for the biopsy reports to know what will be the course of treatment. I am very worried that we may be loosing the battle to the cancer since she didn't start her treatment yet. I am not sure what is the damage due to the wrong diagnosis in the beginning and if the extra few days the new oncologist is asking for will make a big difference. The oncologist resume looks very impressive by the way, a lot better than the first one and he works for a better cancer center. I
I appreciate your input about the situation. Have a good evening.

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