Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed with lung cancer or are in the process of seeking a second opinion, one of the most important decisions you can make in the days that follow is where you would like to go to receive lung cancer treatment. There are several factors to consider when choosing a treatment center, and having the answers to these questions can help you down the road to receiving the treatment you need.
This may seem obvious, but when you’re looking at cancer treatment options, it’s important to be sure that you’re starting by looking at centers who have your best interests at heart. The good news is that if you find a high-quality treatment center, many of the rest of these factors will fall into place. If you’re looking for a treatment center, The American College of Surgeons’ database might be a good place to start. It contains links to more than 1500 centers accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. This means that they are dedicated to providing the best in cancer treatment, as well as complying with certain sets of standards.
When researching a lung cancer treatment center, another factor to consider is what services they offer. Lung cancer treatment, like all cancer treatment, is a complex network of processes, and it’s important to be able to receive as much care under one roof as possible to avoid spending time and money commuting from place to place. It’s also important in maintaining a good line of communication between all members of your medical team. In addition to your relationship with your oncologist, you might also need to meet with a radiation oncologist, a pulmonologist (a lung specialist), a respiratory therapist, and others, depending on what medical conditions you’re experiencing. You also may meet with a palliative care specialist, that is, someone who helps treat the physical and emotional symptoms of the disease along the way.
One possible constraint you may be facing is what services and locations may or may not be part of your insurance network. Because cancer treatment is so costly an endeavor, finding a treatment center within your insurance network may keep you from paying more out of pocket in copays and deductibles. Some alternative treatments, such as acupuncture or massage, may not be covered under your insurance plan, so be sure to discuss this with your providers and your medical team to see if those options are right for you.
Volume of Patients
While it may seem counterintuitive to be sharing a treatment center with many other patients, a high patient volume at a lung cancer treatment center can actually have several advantages. Because cancer research and technology is costly, cancer care centers with more patients may have the money to spend on state-of-the-art technology, which may give you more options when it comes to your treatment plan. These can include imaging and radiation therapy resources. Moreover, treatment centers with high volumes of patients may be more likely to have support groups of other cancer survivors, which can be a critical part of treatment and recovery.
Finally, consider the location of your treatment center. Is it important to you to be near family? Do you want to travel instead? If so, ask about housing options for when you do. Many lung cancer treatment centers have hospitality houses near the center that will provide free housing during the course of treatment. Travel for treatment may be expensive, so keep your receipts and remember that those are tax deductible expenses.
There are many factors in play when seeking lung cancer treatment, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed at the options available to you. Make sure you’re asking questions, and don’t be afraid to call and ask to speak to several treatment centers before deciding which one is right for you. This will help you enter your treatment with confidence and get you on the road to recovery that much faster.