How to Find a Liver Cancer Surgeon
A diagnosis of liver cancer is an unsettling piece of news to receive. A good way to start off on the right foot is to find a team of expert medical professionals whose experience and abilities can be a strong prediction of their success. If surgery is the foundation of your treatment plan, then your choice of a liver cancer surgeon is a crucial part of the healing process.
Beginning Your Search
It’s relatively simple to find a starting point. Begin with the doctor who first gives you your diagnosis—this may be a general practitioner or a specialized oncologist. Either way, he or she is a medical professional with more connections and insight into the medical world than you have. Recommendations for liver cancer surgeons that come from this population provide a valuable perspective for the patient. It is likely that whatever names you receive from medical sources will be reputable, established, and well-respected by their peers.
Peers are one thing, however, patients can provide a completely different take on the subject. Asking former and current liver cancer patients for surgeon suggestions will give you a more subjective, but perhaps more pertinent, glimpse into a surgeon’s worth. Certain factors that concern you—such as bedside manners, approachability, cost, staff, and hospital facilities—may not come up in a discussion of the surgeon with highest success and the most cutting-edge techniques, but a former patient is sure to take all of these into consideration. Evaluations of this type are always interesting, but a note of warning: don’t take any one anecdote at face value. It is safer to remember the highly personal nature of each patient’s encounter, and to keep in mind that each person’s experience will vary.
Finally, to make your initial search as comprehensive as possible, you might consider making use of online resources. There are a multitude of websites devoted to cancer patients and their treatments—forums such as these are possibly the best place to get a truly sweeping set of opinions. In addition, looking through the member directories of organizations such as the Society of Surgical Oncology can prove useful.
Past and Present
Once you have a few names on your list, it’s time to do more thorough research into each one. Never underestimate the importance of looking in a surgeon’s past and present work. The surgical techniques used for liver cancer are so diverse that you should consider surgeons who have performed one type of surgery many times—experience does a lot to hone a surgeon’s abilities. Look into his or her history of past operations, including training, licenses, and the overall number of liver cancer surgeries performed.
To take a more present-day approach, investigate the frequency with which a surgeon performs liver cancer surgeries. You don’t want to go under someone’s knife who has a history of hundreds of successful surgical resections from five years ago! Additionly, some newer techniques such as radiofrequency ablations require more up-to-date training.