All doctors are highly trained professionals. They have all spent many years educating themselves and putting their studies into practice. That does not, however, mean that they have all spent those years focusing on the same lessons.
Most doctors focus their studies on the diseases and conditions they treat the most. Because mesothelioma is a rare disease, few doctors give it as much attention as the other cancers or conditions they are more likely to encounter. This means they may not be fully informed about all your possible treatment options. You need to find a doctor who has up-to-date information.
5 ways to look for doctors who truly know mesothelioma
There is no way to overstate the importance of top-quality treatment. Studies have shown that the quality of care makes a huge difference in a patient’s outcome. In fact, one study found that patients who could travel to pursue specialized treatment and curative care had a 30% greater chance of living beyond expectations.
But where can you find that specialized treatment? That’s the question.
The truth is that there are at least five different ways you can start looking for knowledgeable doctors. You will likely want to compare the results from two or more approaches:
- You can ask your primary doctor for a referral. Your doctor should be able to start you in the right direction. However, you can still ask any new referrals about their experiences with mesothelioma. Just because they may know more than your primary doctor, they may not yet be experts in their own right.
- If you conduct an internet search for mesothelioma treatment centers and doctors, you’ll likely find some names. Maybe even some near you. You’ll also run into a lot of paid advertisements. You’ll find some good information, but it may be hard to sort out the good information from the loudest, paid voices.
- You can look to established review sites. As an example, the U.S. News & World Report offers its list of the 15 best cancer treatment centers. The centers earning mention on this list will all feature numerous experienced doctors and cutting-edge treatments. However, the centers will likely have earned their place on the list for their work with other cancers, not specifically for mesothelioma.
- The National Cancer Institute hosts a list of clinical trials. You can search for mesothelioma trials by filtering for “mesothelioma.” If you find doctors or treatment centers conducting clinical trials near you, the odds are those doctors and treatment centers have a good deal of experience with mesothelioma. You may want to reach out to discuss your case, even if you do not qualify for a clinical trial.
- You might find recommendations or insights from other professionals, such as experienced mesothelioma attorneys. Many of these professionals encounter up-to-date information about the latest research and clinical trials on a day-to-day basis.
This is not necessarily an exhaustive list. For example, the independent web resource MediFind claims to use cutting-edge data analysis to sort the true experts from doctors and centers that are merely “internet rated.” If you had the time and interest, you could also dive deep into the medical journals to see which doctors are leading the most important research. But there comes a point where you need to pursue treatment, rather than investigate the possible providers.
Remember the value of a second opinion
Finally, it’s important to remember that even highly educated doctors may not agree about the best course of treatment. Doctors all have individual perspectives shaped by their experiences, and they may favor the treatments that are most familiar to them.
You want to speak with these experts and get their insight, but you also want to advocate for your own interests. This often means getting a second, or even a third, opinion. You want to learn what the experts believe will work best, and if you find multiple options, you should feel empowered to choose the one that’s best for you.