Women Who Pick Their Own Surgeons Seem to Get More Experienced Care

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YOU are the most important member of your treatment team. Every woman is different and every breast cancer treatment plan is different. When you're first diagnosed, an important part of your "homework" is getting involved in selecting the right doctor or doctors to take care of you.

A study shows that women who were involved in choosing their surgeon were more likely to have an experienced surgeon and be in an established cancer treatment program. This doesn't mean that a referral from a doctor you trust isn't valuable. But if you're referred to a doctor by a health plan or another doctor you don't know well, you might want to take some time to think about your options. Ask other women and other health care professionals which doctors and cancer programs they recommend. If you have time, you also might want to interview any doctors you're considering. Besides the doctor's skill and experience, the chemistry between you and your doctor should be right. Your relationship with your breast cancer doctor is one of the most important relationships of your life. It should be one that has good communication and trust.

Even after you've chosen a doctor, never be afraid to ask questions about anything, including alternative treatment options. If you have any doubts about the information you're getting or the recommended treatment, you can ask for a second opinion. You might decide to change doctors. This is OK. It's YOUR life and YOUR treatment team. Don't settle for anything less than what is best for YOU.

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