A question I'm asked often is, "Where is the best place to go for my lung cancer treatment?"
Having had to choose a cancer center myself, I have a little idea how overwhelming that decision can be. Even as a physician who researches choices, I felt like I was taking a crash course for a language I'd never wanted to learn. I can't imagine how frightening it is for so many.
But there are some things you can think about that will help make the decision a little more objective. I actually made a spread sheet with pro's and con's when I was making my own choice - and filled it in with information from my first and second opinions. Some of the things I weighed included:
- Comprehensive care availability (could I do chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation at the same place?)
- Volume (number of patients like me that are treated there annually.)
- Treatment options including clinical trials. As an example, only a few cancer centers offered the option of heart sparing radiation therapy.
- Insurance constraints. Including in-network options that would be fully covered, and out-of-network options in which I'd be required to pay higher copays and deductibles.
I know it feels a little artificial to put your health on a spread sheet - at least it did for me. And in the end I went with my "gut" feelings about where I felt most comfortable. But it was helpful to think specifically about what I wanted in a cancer treatment center.
If you're facing this choice now, check out this article that discusses the topic in much more depth: