Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: How to Find the Right Oncologist
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gwen Nichols of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society advises patients and caregivers what to look for in their health care team when navigating a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Nichols: What makes a great doctor-patient relationship is the free exchange of information, that the patient feels comfortable asking questions and the doctor understands where the patient is in their understanding, and provides them the appropriate information that they need to make tough decisions.
I think some people feel like the important thing is the number of titles that the doctor has. Sometimes, that's really not what's most important. It's someone who you feel you can talk to and have a conversation with, and get the information you need to feel comfortable with what's happening in your care.
You may have a wonderful oncologist, and that's the right person for you to be treated by, but they need to be sure that the pathologic diagnosis of lymphoma is the correct one.
And I'd encourage patients to ask their doctors about getting a second opinion on the pathology to be your doctor is acting on the correct information. That’s really important. Especially if you really like your doctor and you want to stay with them.
Now we have a lot of what we call biomarkers that tell us different things about potential treatments that may or may not be effective for you. And I think that's only going to increase in the future, so patients should make sure that the diagnosis has all the latest biomarkers done so that the doctor can make the best decisions for you.
What helps patients be successful is figuring out how you can feel empowered with education, with conversation, and with support. No one should go through a lymphoma diagnosis by themselves.
It's really important not to be by yourself, especially for doctor's appointments. Your friends may wannna help you, let them help you. Have them come and take notes. Have them help you look up things and understand things. It may not be natural for you to do that, but I would encourage patients to do that, because a patient who understands what they're gonna go through will be safe and will have the best outcome.