Choosing the best breast cancer surgeon and medical team can be overwhelming. Thankfully, there are more breast cancer treatment options today than 20 years ago. When you are diagnosed with breast cancer you want to get the best treatment you can afford. But how do you figure out where to go for treatment? How do you know that the recommended treatment is the best choice for you? And what should you look for in a breast cancer treatment team?
These are all questions I faced when I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. Here are a few tips on things to consider when choosing the best team to treat your breast cancer.
#1 Ask for Recommendations to Breast Cancer Surgeons
Talk with your primary care doctor. He/she should be familiar with local cancer medical facilities or provide you with a list of recommended breast cancer surgeons and oncologists. If you have a family member, friend or coworker who you are comfortable speaking with, you can ask for a referral to their doctor. This is a good idea because you can ask personal questions about their experiences with the doctor, their medical team and the front office. Getting treatment from a caring and compassionate team can make all the difference.
#2 Choose a Black Breast Cancer Surgeon
You may feel more at ease with a black breast cancer surgeon. Often times we are more open with our doctors if they look like us; we feel that they understand where we are coming from. Studies have shown that black people treated by black doctors have higher positive outcomes.
#3 Consider Time and Travel Costs
When choosing your medical team, the location is important. You may have a lot of appointments, depending on your treatment. Breast reconstruction adds on even more appointments. If you are working, you may want to use doctors close to your office. All of this depends on the amount of time you are able to take off.
I received my treatment at the John Hopkins Breast Center in Baltimore, MD which is about 45 minutes away from my home. Fortunately, John Hopkins has facilities throughout Maryland. This allowed me to have some of my testing and appointments a little closer to home.
If you have a car, you want to make sure it is in good condition and that you have extra gas money for those appointments. If you have to rely on a friend or Uber, you don’t want them to have to drive very far because it can be expensive.
After breast cancer surgery and treatment, a good medical team will continue to schedule follow up appointments with you over the next several years. If your treatment plan includes radiation or chemotherapy you may want to select a place that isn’t too far to travel, especially if you will be driving to your appointments alone.
#4 Do Your Research
Most medical facilities have websites that you can visit to see what they offer for treatment. You can look at breast cancer doctors such as surgeons, plastic surgeons, and oncologists. At the end of the day, you want a team that is on your side; a team willing to listen to you. Once you find a good doctor, you should always be sure that your surgeon of choice is Board Certified.
#5 Call Your Insurance Company
This tip is very important to me. Once you have found the best doctor for you, you should call your insurance company to see if your doctor of choice is in-network. If so, you will pay less out of pocket expenses. Do not overlook this. When you start getting your bills and explanations of benefits, you will be in shock at the costs. My mastectomy cost almost $28,000 and because the doctors at John Hopkins were in my health insurance’s network, I only paid a little under $1,400 out of pocket. If you choose a doctor that is outside of your insurance network, you will end up paying a high percentage (or all) of the costs for your surgery and treatment.
Did you have a great breast cancer surgeon, oncologist or plastic surgeon? If so, please share in the comments or head over to the Breast Cancer Forum to share!
Looking for a gift for someone diagnosed with breast cancer? Check out this “I Got You Covered” Breast Cancer Gift Set.