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Colorectal Cancer: Managing Your Medical Care: Diagnosis to Treatment: Stage IV

How To Choose The Best Available Doctors And Surgeons

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As noted in the summary, of this document, colorectal cancer usually involves a team of doctors including a gastroenterologist, a medical oncologist, a colon and rectal surgeon and a radiation oncologist. Upon suspicion of the presence of colorectal cancer, or an evaluation for colorectal cancer, a primary doctor will most often refer you to a gastroenterologist. After diagnosing colorectal cancer, the gastroenterologist or doctor will refer you to a surgeon and/or a medical oncologist (a doctor who specializes in chemotherapy treatment.)

Generally people see the specialist recommended by their doctor. If you are looking for a specialist for a single consultation for a particular problem, your doctor's recommendation may be adequate. However, because of the importance of this situation, consider speaking with several different specialists before settling on the best one for you.

Ideally, a doctor will be board certified, have extensive experience with your particular situation, and be affiliated with a top quality treatment center.

For information about how to choose  a particular type of doctor that may be of interest to you, click on the following appropriate link:

 For information about how to locate and choose other specialists, click here.

If you have difficulty choosing among several doctors, Survivorship A to Z provides an easy-to-use Evaluator to help make a decision. Click here.

Do not allow the search for the best doctor or facility to delay start of treatment. A delay can result in complications which require emergency care -- and then you would end up being treated at the facility nearest you rather than the hospital best suited to your situation. Check with your doctor about how much time you have to make a decision so you can time your actions. (To learn how to prepare for a medical emergency, click here.)


  • Speak with your insurance company to find out what, if any, requirements you need to satisfy before seeing a specialist. (To learn more, click here.)
  • Ask all of your questions and discuss all of your concerns. Do not feel guilty if the needs you have are not the same as other people you speak with. The key to choosing a doctor is to findone that will work for you and your needs.
  • If your health insurance requires seeing doctors who are in a particular network, do not assume that a doctor is in the network just because the doctor who refers you is in the network. Always check.
  • It is important your doctors communicate with each other and that there be an acknowledged leader of the team. The leader may change over the course of care. If a doctor doesn't take the lead naturally, choose one of your doctors to fill the role. If the doctor doesn't do a good job of coordinating your care, choose a different doctor to be the leader.
  • If you haven't already, this is a time to learn how to maximize your time with a doctor. Even if you are used to working with doctors, Survivorship A to Z information is likely to provide suggestions for making your limited time with a doctor more effective. To learn more, click here.
  • Look at the Survivorship A to Z article about how to get through waiting periods. In the current situation, the techniques can be used while waiting for appointments which permit you to make your decision as an informed consumer.

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