Fighting Prostate Cancer Together

Steps to Take When Looking for a Physician

The following information is taken from the book
The Wellness Community Guide to Fighting for Recovery from Cancer

by Harold H. Benjamin, Ph.D.)

Because a good relationship with the right physician is of overriding importance to you, you should probably commit as much time and energy as is necessary to attain such a relationship. The following are steps that may be helpful.


Choose a medically competent physician. In most cases, this is done by recommendation and reputation. There also are situations where your insurance carrier or HMO will select your physician.


Ensure that the relationship is, at the very least, cordial. It does not have to blossom into a full-blown friendship for it to be effective and efficient. It is only necessary that it be agreeable.


Make sure that the expectations of both you and your doctor are clearly understood by each of you.  There are as many variations of the patient-physician relationship as there are patients and doctors. Some patients want every bit of information they can get. Others want to hear nothing but instructions. Some want to know what the treatment alternatives are and want to make the final decision themselves. Others want the doctor to decide what's best. Some consider waiting in a waiting room an acceptable inconvenience, while others find it intolerable. Some want to ask questions, write down answers, and have other people in the examining room.  Others don't. Physicians, just like everyone else, also are different, and those differences must be taken into account
  Very often, it is difficult for the patient to start the conversation with the doctor. After all, physicians have always been authority figures. But start it anyway. With very few exceptions, your physician is as anxious to have the conversation as your are. The dialogue should continue as long as necessary, and you should probably initiate new conversations when any part of the relationship appears unsatisfactory.


If your needs as a patient conflict seriously with the doctor's style, consider whether it's in your best interest to find another physician. Most people find it difficult and sometimes embarrassing to leave a physician. Although this rather drastic step should be taken only after serious consideration, it's not impossible or unthinkable. If the situation is irreparable, it's appropriate.
  Often cancer patients are treated by a group of physicians that may include an oncologist, radiologist, surgeon, and/or some other specialist, along with the family doctor. One of the patient's most frequent complaints is that no one is in charge; each physician acts almost independently, and there is no one to whom the patient can talk to get all the information needed to make a decision. Therefore, it's important that you try to get one of the doctors to be the coordinator of the team and the repository of all information.
  One admonition:  Don't ask for a prognosis or inquire about longevity statistics unless you are actually ready to hear the answer.