Here is a 12-point checklist based on an article published recently in Europe. The following draft is a paraphrased English translation of the original document, with annotations added to fit the U.S. medical context.
"Cancer - The 12 New Commandments for Having a Better Chance for a Cure"
Our advice - Better screening methods and more efficient treatments have improved the survival of patients. Here are some recommendations for those who fight against cancer.
1. Do not consent to undergo a specific treatment regimen on the basis of the recommendation of just a single specialist or a single surgeon. Any cancer treatment regimen (i.e., chemo, radiation, surgery, etc.) must be decided on during a multidisciplinary team meeting in which all of the specialists concerned are represented.
2. Make sure your attending physician (PCP) is the recipient of your whole hospital file and all of your special test results. Also, verify your level of access to the medical documents in your chart via your hospital portal account, since you may need to have access to your original medical documents throughout the course of your treatment and follow-up.
3a. Check the website of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), to determine if there is an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center near you -- one where you could get a professional second opinion, and one where you could even transfer all of your care if your insurance policy will cover it.
- How to Find an NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer
https://www.cancer.gov/research/nci-rol ... nters/find
3b. Check the cancer ranking of your current hospital or clinic by accessing the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings for cancer hospitals:
- How to Find the Best Cancer Hospitals in Your Area
https://health.usnews.com/best-hospital ... ngs/cancer
4. If you have even the slightest doubt about the course of treatment proposed for you, do not hesitate to ask for a second opinion at a reputable hospital outside your current hospital network, especially if your confidence in the assigned doctor is low. (Note: It is not a good idea to get your second opinion locally from another doctor in the same hospital network, because doctors won't usually criticize or contradict their close colleagues.)
5. For surgery, ensure the cancer experience of the surgeon by verifying three points:
- Verify that the surgeon has an up-to-date Board Certification in colorectal cancer. This can be done by accessing the http://www.certificationmatters.org website:
- How to find a Board-Certified surgeon
- Verify that the surgeon's interest in colorectal surgery is focused on cancer, and not just on benign colorectal conditions like ulcerative colitis.This can sometimes be verified by reviewing the surgeon's webpage on the hospital website. (Note: There are indeed some colorectal surgeons who prefer not to deal with cancer patients. They just prefer to do the simple surgeries that don't require much attention to getting good surgical margins. etc.)
- Verify that the surgeon received his/her medical training at a reputable medical school and has had relevant advanced training in one or more specialties at a reputable institution. This can sometimes be determined by reviewing the surgeon's webpage.
6. For radiotherapy or chemotherapy, check that the Radiation Oncology Unit, and the Infusion Center have been properly certified by the relevant authorities and that the equipment they use is up-to-date and up to current standards.
7. If possible, be accompanied by a loved one during the first consultation with the cancerologist. It is important to have someone else present who can help record what was said and to help make sure all important questions were asked and answered.
8. Before choosing the establishment that will be responsible for your treatment and follow-up, do not hesitate to ask the following question of the attending physician: "And you, doctor, if you were in my situation, who would you go to see, and where would you want to be treated?"
9. In communications with medical staff, dare to say: "I didn't understand. Could you please repeat in simpler terms that I can understand"
10. Seek help from a qualified psycho-oncologist soon after the cancer diagnosis is announced.
11. Do not stop your currently prescribed treatments if you decide to take advantage of some alternative or complementary medicine.
12. Never take medication or food supplements on your own without the advice of the team that follows you.