How to evaluate a cancer doctor?

Posted by lbern @lbern, Feb 26, 2019

I like my doctor. He is very nice and does a good job of calming me down. But I was given a life expectancy of 3-6 months,3 months age so everything seems so urgent to me, and it seems my cancer is progressing, so being a nice person might not be enough. I realize when the hospital assigned him to me, I never asked how much experience, how many patients have you treated with my particular cancer? I wonder if there’s a way to find this out. I also wonder if there are statistics that show how successful different oncologists are treating particular cancers. I feel like asking now would be really rude and might create a tainted relationship. Wondering how patients can find out things like that without fearing insulting their doctor. Also if there are other things I should ask. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this at the time I met him….

Hello @lbern You raise an interesting point! I think, at one time or another, everyone wonders about the qualifications of their doctors! In our case we researched them on the Internet. Most groups and hospitals usually have a place on their site where you can 'meet the staff'. Often all the doctor's credentials are listed — college, med school, internship, and any Board certifications.

I would also not be afraid to just ask! Before my wife's brain cancer surgery we asked the surgeon a TON of questions! He understood and was happy to answer them all. In our case he totally understood this was a stressful time and we were doing something that was new to us, but we hoped was 'common' for him in his experience!

Have you done a Google search on your doctor? Did you find anything there that helped?

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Ask for second opinion! Forget being nice..it is your life!! I have heard that a dr. who gets upset is not a good dr. Have you asked about clinical trials? I would do that now!!! Look on NIH website for trials for your type cancer. So sorry. I believe it you do this you will love many more years.

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@cctoo

Ask for second opinion! Forget being nice..it is your life!! I have heard that a dr. who gets upset is not a good dr. Have you asked about clinical trials? I would do that now!!! Look on NIH website for trials for your type cancer. So sorry. I believe it you do this you will love many more years.

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I would even advise two more opinions. My first consultant wanted to give me Hydroxea for my diagnosis of myelofibrosis in 2011. When I refused treatment in favour of natural interventions – liposomal vitamin C, curcumin, medicinal mushrooms, serrapeptase and other supplements she 'sacked' me. My current consultant, Dr Nagumantry at Peterborough City Hospital UK, whom I respect a great deal, is not only happy with my seeing a medical herbalist but told me recently to keep doing what I am doing because it is working. He told me I am unusually stable. He told me this in front of a student doctor. That is altruism, I believe!

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@stimme

I would even advise two more opinions. My first consultant wanted to give me Hydroxea for my diagnosis of myelofibrosis in 2011. When I refused treatment in favour of natural interventions – liposomal vitamin C, curcumin, medicinal mushrooms, serrapeptase and other supplements she 'sacked' me. My current consultant, Dr Nagumantry at Peterborough City Hospital UK, whom I respect a great deal, is not only happy with my seeing a medical herbalist but told me recently to keep doing what I am doing because it is working. He told me I am unusually stable. He told me this in front of a student doctor. That is altruism, I believe!

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@stimme, you may want to read this information on myelofibrosis from Mayo Clinic
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/myelofibrosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355062. Have the doctors that you’ve seen talked about the course of the disease and ttotal treatment? Have they suggested using natural interventions along with traditional treatment? How are things going for you with just the natural treatments?

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Hi @lbern, I was a litigation paralegal, specializing in medical malpractice actions for 31 years, prior to having to medically retire due to pancreatic disease. Here's what I do for all doctor referrals, as well as finding any new doctors on my own:

1) If in the U.S., go to Google online search & type in the "state" where your doctor(s) practice(s) medicine, then type in "medical board." Type in the name of the potential doctor(s) names you want to check out to see if he/she is in good standing and/or if he/she has any prior or current disciplinary actions against him/her in your state, as well as prior licensures in other states; If you see multiple other states where he/she has practiced, this is usually a red flag indicating they may have had medical malpractice lawsuits against him/her & then moved.

2) Next, Google the state's county court's website where any potential doctor(s) currently are or have practiced in the past. Under section "Civil Actions/Case Lookup" type in the doctor's name to see if he/she has any past or current pending court actions against him/her. If he/she has more than 1 action whether it be past or presently pending, RUN FOR THE HILLS & obtain a second opinion!!!

Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me personally. Best wishes on finding a good doctor who can help!❤

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@becsbuddy

@stimme, you may want to read this information on myelofibrosis from Mayo Clinic
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/myelofibrosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355062. Have the doctors that you’ve seen talked about the course of the disease and ttotal treatment? Have they suggested using natural interventions along with traditional treatment? How are things going for you with just the natural treatments?

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Hello, Becky, My consultant told me he is not permitted to recommend natural treatment by NICE the National Institution of Clinical Excellence! However, he did look at the printouts I gave him from the myelofibrosis group on Cancer Compass where contributors gave details of their figures after following a generally similar natural protocol. These showed a number of improvements in blood counts etc which was not usual in this condition! "Very interesting!" was his comment. I do have a swollen spleen still but am not aware of suffering from this particularly, more from my diagnosis of spinal stenosis. I was also diagnosed with mild prostate cancer in August 2019. I have just found that I should not have been eating eggs every day for breakfast – too much choline, so have stopped that and am reviewing my diet this weekend to cover both conditions!

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My story is a testament to getting a 2nd opinion. It saved my life. Dr Truty at Mayo was my source for not accepting a standard outcome which in my case would have been hospice within a year and death. https://sharing.mayoclinic.org/2020/02/05/aggressive-approach-to-pancreatic-cancer-yields-outstanding-outcome/

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Your story is very much like my husbands story. He would not be here today if it wasn’t for a second opinion at Mayo Clinic and the great surgical work of Dr. Michael Kendrick. He saved my husbands life. I will forever be grateful to him!!! Thank you just isn’t enough! Glad to hear you are doing great!!!

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My husband was given 4 months to live and after getting over the shock he called Roswell Park Hospital in Buffalo New York. (We live in Canada) Dr. Torka calmed my husband and told him there were treatments available that would help him. She even called my husband’s oncologist to make sure he knew what to do. Yes, a second opinion can save your life!

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You are so right. I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 22 months ago. Local (Mobile, Alabama) oncologists and surgeon told me there was no cure and no hope because the cancer was sitting on an artery. I insisted that they start chemo anyway and got on the computer to research my condition.I found that Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida had two surgeons who had the skill and training to frequently be able to operate on this type cancer. The local doctors had not told me there are surgeons scattered around the country (but none in Alabama) who are trained and qualified to do this surgery. I would strongly urge any patient who is told their condition is untreatable and hopeless to seek at least a second opinion. A seven hour drive to Jacksonville for a second opinion led to Dr. Stauffer at the Mayo Clinic who saved my life.

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Ask all the questions you want/need. If the doc gets bothered, he’s probably not the best. Also, GET A SECOND OPINION! I can’t stress this enough, even a third or fourth if you feel the need. I had an oncologist chew. E out because I got a second opinion. Turns out, doc1 had trained doc2 years ago, he was upset with doc #2 for going to work at another cancer center. Needless to say I didn’t go back to doc1. All of the oncologists I’ve seen since, (which has been quite a few, with 2 rare cancers) have encouraged me to get second opinions.

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@kimber361

Hi @lbern, I was a litigation paralegal, specializing in medical malpractice actions for 31 years, prior to having to medically retire due to pancreatic disease. Here's what I do for all doctor referrals, as well as finding any new doctors on my own:

1) If in the U.S., go to Google online search & type in the "state" where your doctor(s) practice(s) medicine, then type in "medical board." Type in the name of the potential doctor(s) names you want to check out to see if he/she is in good standing and/or if he/she has any prior or current disciplinary actions against him/her in your state, as well as prior licensures in other states; If you see multiple other states where he/she has practiced, this is usually a red flag indicating they may have had medical malpractice lawsuits against him/her & then moved.

2) Next, Google the state's county court's website where any potential doctor(s) currently are or have practiced in the past. Under section "Civil Actions/Case Lookup" type in the doctor's name to see if he/she has any past or current pending court actions against him/her. If he/she has more than 1 action whether it be past or presently pending, RUN FOR THE HILLS & obtain a second opinion!!!

Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me personally. Best wishes on finding a good doctor who can help!❤

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Hi @kimber361, The path you laid out above does not at all work. While I can get to the page for the Medical Board of the state Im in you have to pick out of a ton of categories to enter the doctors name. So typing "medical board" then name is a non-existent path. And there are so many options for so many different things I literally could not find a way to get the info I wanted on a particular doctor. I don't know if you will get this let alone be able to help but nothing to lose by trying. Thank you in advance for any reply!

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@stimme

Hello, Becky, My consultant told me he is not permitted to recommend natural treatment by NICE the National Institution of Clinical Excellence! However, he did look at the printouts I gave him from the myelofibrosis group on Cancer Compass where contributors gave details of their figures after following a generally similar natural protocol. These showed a number of improvements in blood counts etc which was not usual in this condition! "Very interesting!" was his comment. I do have a swollen spleen still but am not aware of suffering from this particularly, more from my diagnosis of spinal stenosis. I was also diagnosed with mild prostate cancer in August 2019. I have just found that I should not have been eating eggs every day for breakfast – too much choline, so have stopped that and am reviewing my diet this weekend to cover both conditions!

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Good morning @stimme Just wondering how you’ve been doing . Have you been able to change your diet at all? And, I’ve never heard about the relationship btw eggs and prostate cancer—can you tell me about it?

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Did you receive my last reply today? I cannot see it!

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… if so. Yes I am enjoying a healthier diet already – lovely mixed raw salads in corn wraps. Nut milks. Sourdough bread and developing!

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