The treatment of cancer usually involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these methods. The type of therapy will be determined by the type of cancer, its location, its extent, and the doctors who are taking care of you. Often, if there is a possibility of curing the cancer so that it will never come back in your lifetime, the only good chance for accomplishing that goal is with the first course of treatment. Therefore, it is very important to make sure that the initial treatment is the best possible.
Here are some things that you might consider before beginning a course of treatment.
- It is tempting to stay close to home for your treatment, and this is often okay, but consider traveling for the best treatment options.
- If your type of cancer is rare or particularly complicated, or the best treatment method is controversial, then you may be better off if treated at a tertiary referral center. The physicians in such a cancer center treat significant numbers of patients with rare or complex diseases and are experienced with the latest treatment methods.
- Ask your physicians what their record is in taking care of patients who have your particular type of malignancy. Have they actually looked at their own patients’ lives to see what the cure rates and the complications are at their facility, or are your doctors quoting data published from other institutions?
- Are your doctors salaried employees, or do they have a direct financial conflict of interest?
- You owe it to yourself and your family to consider all your options before making this important decision.
Remember: the first course of treatment is usually the best chance (and sometimes the only chance) of curing the cancer.