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Finding the Right Healthcare Team

Navigating a blood cancer diagnosis is challenging. But the first step after receiving a diagnosis should be finding your healthcare team. Many questions may arise as you approach this decision: What do I need? Where do I start? Which specialists treat my disease?

Start with your doctor

When deciding on your specialist, facility, and treatment needs, begin with your primary doctor. The doctor who diagnosed you with cancer (if they were not your primary doctor) is another option.1,2

Your doctor can give you information on cancer specialists in your area. They know the local medical, cancer, and research centers and can recommend a good fit for you. They also can submit a referral on your behalf.1,2

What is a hematologist-oncologist?

Hematologist-oncologist specialists treat blood cancer. Their primary training is in internal medicine, and their subspecialty is diseases of the blood. They focus on treating blood cancers. Having a hematologist-oncologist oversee your treatment is beneficial.2,3

How to find a hematologist-oncologist

There are national databases that allow you to search for a hematologist-oncologist in your area. These databases detail each doctor's specialties and locations. Websites that have doctor databases include:1,2

Choosing a treatment center

Doctors work with certain medical facilities. Choosing a doctor means using the place where they practice. Some people prefer to choose the treatment facility rather than the doctor.1,2

Different treatment centers offer different services. Questions to consider when choosing a site include:1,2

  • Where is the center located?
  • How many people with blood cancer does it serve?
  • Which organizations rate it for quality of care, and how does it compare to other centers?
  • Is it accredited?
  • Is the center involved in blood cancer clinical trials?
  • Are social workers, financial assistance officers, and other support people available to help people move through the process?
  • Which type of treatment facility is it?

Types of treatment facilities

There are several types of treatment centers for cancer. Research your area to make the best choice for you.2

National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers

  • Has the most up-to-date progress for cancer diagnosis, treatment, and clinical trials
  • Research-focused with a dedication to public outreach and education

University-affiliated hospitals or centers

  • Connected with a university or medical school
  • Often NCI-designated with current treatments, including a stem cell clinic

Community Cancer Centers or Hospitals

  • Local and easily accessible
  • Often connected with an NCI-designated program that offers NCI treatments locally

How to find a treatment center

There are websites to help you find the right treatment center for you. You can search by your location and find out whether each program is accredited.1,2

Getting a second opinion

When you are planning treatments for blood cancer, getting a second opinion can be helpful. People seeking a second opinion may worry about their primary doctor’s reaction. But most doctors welcome you to consult with a colleague.1,2

A second opinion can confirm your diagnosis and treatment plan. The second doctor also may provide additional treatment suggestions. Feeling confident in your treatment plan is vital, so do not hesitate to get a second opinion.1,2

Insurance considerations

Whether your policy is through a private provider, the federal marketplace, or Medicare/Medicaid, your insurance policy will have a big effect on the healthcare team you choose. Before committing to a cancer center or doctor:1,2

  • Find out what your insurance covers. Your policy may have restrictions on out-of-town centers or doctors.
  • Ask your provider which doctors and treatment centers are in-network and which are out-of-network.
  • Learn about your insurance plan's co-pays and maximum out-of-pocket costs.
  • Discuss your cancer treatment coverage before beginning treatment.

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