Choosing Your Doctor
One of the most important decisions you’ll make as you begin your melanoma journey is selecting your doctor and treatment team. Because of the rapidly changing melanoma research landscape, we suggest selecting a doctor who regularly sees melanoma patients, and is more likely to be abreast of the latest advancements.
Throughout your melanoma journey, you will likely interact with a variety of health care professionals, including:
- Dermatologists: Doctors with special training focused on the skin, nails, and hair.
- Surgical Oncologists: Surgeons with special training in the management of cancer.
- Medical Oncologists: Doctors with specialized training in treating melanoma (and other cancers) using immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and other medicines. A Medical Oncologist generally serves as the ‘point person’ on your melanoma treatment team and will likely help coordinate care provided by other specialists.
- Radiation Oncologists: Doctors with specialized training in treating melanoma (and other cancers) using radiation.
Your treatment team will also likely include a variety of other specialists, such as radiologists who perform X-rays and CT scans, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, and more.
Things to consider when selecting your doctor:
- Are they part of your health insurance network?
- Are they convenient (enough) to get to?
- Does the doctor seem like a good ‘fit’ in terms of personality and communication style?
- Does the doctor’s office offer supportive services, such as help with nutrition?
- Does the doctor participate in research studies? Do they support patient participation in clinical trials?
National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Centers:
If you are unsure of where to start, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) – part of the National Institutes of Health – has designated 70 centers throughout the country as “NCI-Designated Cancer Centers.” These 70 centers deliver cutting-edge treatments to patients and are recognized for their scientific leadership, resources, and the depth and breadth of their research in basic, clinical, and/or population science. Click here to find a NCI-Designated Cancer Center in your area.
Getting a Second Opinion:
Many people diagnosed with a serious or rare illness – such as late-stage melanoma – want to get a second opinion on their diagnosis and/or their treatment options. In melanoma, because of the fast-moving pace of research, second opinions can be a critical step – giving you a different perspective needed to make the best, most informed decision for you. This is especially true if you are not being seen by a doctor who regularly sees patients with your type of melanoma. Most insurance plans reimburse the cost of a second-opinion for cancer care. Learn more about getting a second opinion.
Other Resources for Finding a Melanoma Specialist:
- American College of Surgeons (ACoS): Find a Surgeon
- American Dermatology Association (ADA): Find a Dermatologist
- American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO): Find a Cancer Doctor
- National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Centers: Find a Cancer Center
Were you or a loved one just diagnosed with melanoma? We have the resources to help. Get Started here.