Finding Your Medical Care Team
After a cancer diagnosis, it is important find a cancer team you feel confident and comfortable with. There are several resources you can use to help guide you:
- Talking to your primary care doctor
- Consulting with family and friends
- Confirming options with your health insurance company
- Online searches
When talking to your prospective doctor, be sure to ask questions to see if you'll feel comfortable working with him or her.
Finding a Treatment Center
Today, more than 60 cancer centers across the United States are designated by the NCI as Cancer Centers or Comprehensive Cancer Centers. You can get a second opinion or be treated for pancreatic cancer at one of these centers. Most have patient information services that will help you during your treatments.
National Cancer Institute–Designated Cancer Centers
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Center Program coordinates broad-based interdisciplinary programs in cancer research. These high-volume cancer centers are dedicated to the advancement of cancer research. NCI recognizes two types of centers: Cancer Centers and Comprehensive Cancer Centers. Each type of center has special characteristics and capabilities for organizing new programs of research that can take advantage of important new findings and address timely research questions. The terms Comprehensive Cancer Center and Cancer Center do not denote a difference in the quality of care provided.
Multidisciplinary Clinics Dedicated to Pancreatic Cancer
More and more today, cancer centers are opening multidisciplinary clinics specifically dedicated to pancreatic cancer. The goal of multidisciplinary clinics is to provide the highest quality of care. Patients who have suspected or known pancreatic cancer may receive a comprehensive evaluation that incorporates all of the resources available at these clinics for the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer. Because highly experienced pancreatic cancer clinicians and specialists are available at these clinics, the most advanced treatments are offered. These clinics also provide patients with the infrastructure, coordinated services, and team approach needed to carefully walk them through all phases of treatment.
Pancreatic Cancer Experience Counts
There are many advantages to receiving treatment at a large cancer center. A center that treats a high number of patients with pancreatic cancer will have more experience in every aspect of your care: diagnosis, staging, surgery, and managing pancreatic cancer side effects and complications. More experience usually means more expertise, which can improve the results of your treatment. For example, at a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center you may be able to have a type of surgery for pancreatic cancer that a small hospital may not be able to offer. Or another hospital may offer the procedure, but not many are performed there. You want a facility that treats many patients with pancreatic cancer.
Many Americans live a manageable distance from a major cancer center. Often, it is possible to have doctors at comprehensive cancer centers help plan and follow a patient, while the actual treatments are performed closer to the patients’ home.
Getting a Second Opinion
It may feel much safer and simpler to take the advice of the doctor who diagnosed your cancer, but getting a second opinion by an expert in your type of pancreatic cancer may be a wiser choice. NCI recommends that all patients with cancer get a second opinion for two reasons: (1) to confirm the diagnosis and (2) to review the proposed course of treatment. You may want to obtain a second opinion for a number of reasons, including:
Your peace of mind
To confirm that your diagnosis is correct and that you will be receiving the most up-to-date treatment
Because your doctor is not experienced in pancreatic cancer.
You may have read about a treatment your doctor does not know about, and may wish to pursue such a treatment.
If you decide to get a second opinion, it may be best to go to an expert who is not affiliated with your doctor and to a center that is not affiliated with your hospital. This is so that you can obtain an unbiased review of your individual case.
American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer® (CoC)
The CoC is dedicated to improving cancer care and the outcome of care by setting quality standards and accrediting over 1,500 cancer programs nationwide.
Cancer.Net provides timely, oncologist-approved information to help patients and families make informed health-care decisions, such as finding a treatment facility, which is also available as a free Podcast.
Healthfinder.gov has resources on a wide range of health topics selected from over 1,600 government and non-profit organizations to bring you reliable health information.
National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers
NCI-designated cancer centers are characterized by scientific excellence and the capability to integrate diverse research approaches to focus on the problem of cancer.
NCI Fact Sheet: How To Find a Doctor or Treatment Facility If You Have Cancer
The Joint Commission
An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the US. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.
The Joint Commission’s Quality Check
Quality Check® is The Joint Commission’s search engine to locate Joint Commission accredited health care organizations in the United States. Visitors can search by city and state, by name or by zip code.