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Does Your Oncologist’s Bedside Manner Matter?

If you’re battling cancer, chances are you’ve sought out the most knowledgeable, reputable oncologist you could find. It’s also likely that you’re working hard to follow every instruction to give yourself the best possible chance at winning the fight. But, what happens if you and your doctor just don’t get along or you can’t understand the instructions or explanations relayed? Does your doctor’s bedside manner matter in the grand scheme of things?

The simple answer is yes. While it’s absolutely true you want a board certified oncologist with solid experience in the field and a track record for helping patients win their personal battles against the disease, communication is also critical. When you and your doctor “gel,” it’s more likely you:

• Will feel comfortable sharing information – There’s nothing “ordinary” or “routine” about fighting cancer for the patient. If your doctor treats you like just another number, chances are you’re not going to feel comfortable opening up and sharing information related to past medical history, treatment side effects, and so on. Since this is critical information that could help stave off other problems, you need a doctor you feel comfortable talking with.

• Will fully understand treatments and what to expect – Cancer treatments can be quite scary. You need to have a full understanding of what’s going to happen, why, and what to expect. That way you can put your own mind at ease and focus on the most important thing – getting better. Your doctor should be able to clearly explain all aspects of the disease, treatment, and your role in conducting the battle.

• Will do your part to get better – Your doctor isn’t solely responsible for your recovery. You also need to understand what to do and what not to do. If you can’t understand instructions or always feel uncomfortable asking for clarifications, there could be a problem.

Your oncologist is a key player in your battle to get better. Make sure the choice you’ve made is a player you can count on to help you through. Compassion and patience are both musts for the very best oncologists.

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