What questions should I be asking on referral?

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and you’re being referred to a specialist for treatment, the most important questions are to understand why you’re being referred to that specialist.

What are their particular experience in this cancer, and what is the broader team that they are part of, so that you can ensure that your cancer and its treatment is being considered by a whole team of people that will think about all the different treatment approaches that might be of benefit?

The other really important thing, particularly if you have a rarer cancer, is which hospital are you being referred to?

Is this a hospital that has lots of experience with these rare cancers, or have they treated just one of them in the last year or two?

Because we know, particularly for rarer cancers, that the outcomes are far better in institutions that have lots of experience and lots of case load.

The rare cancers include things like head and neck cancer, mesothelioma, things called sarcomas, which are cancers of the muscles, the bones, many gynecologic cancers, or cancers of the uterus, of the ovaries.

The common cancers, the things that, if you like, most hospitals see a lot of, include things like bowel cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer.

Professor Michael Boyer is Medical Oncologist at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

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Author: myDr

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