Choosing a Cancer Treatment Facility

March 12, 2012
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How to choose a treatment facility for your cancer care.


You’re listening to a podcast from Cancer.Net. This cancer information website is produced by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, known as ASCO, the world’s leading professional organization for doctors who care for people with cancer.

Today we’ll discuss how to choose a treatment center for your cancer care. 

After learning you have cancer, your first major decision will likely be to choose an oncologist. An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating people with cancer. Then, you will work with your oncologist to decide on the best treatment plan. Part of this decision is to select where to receive your treatment, such as at a cancer center, hospital, or other treatment facility.  Some people find an oncologist and then choose a treatment center based on where that doctor practices. Other people find a doctor who works in a center that specializes in their type of cancer.

The people who work at the center you choose will become part of your health care team. The health care team is led by your oncologist and includes nurses, social workers, and technicians.

You may also need to choose a facility that is approved by your insurance plan. Your insurance company will have a list of approved facilities. Be sure to check with your insurance company and ask for that list of approved places.

Next, talk with your doctor about these options based on your type of cancer, the expected treatment plan, and your personal needs. It may also be helpful to ask other patients about their experiences, including through local or online support groups.

Here are four important questions to answer about each treatment center:

Number One: Ask how much experience the facility has in treating this specific type of cancer. And, talk with your doctor about how successful each center has been with the treatment plan you’ll be following.

Number Two: Decide how easily you can get to the facility from your home or workplace. This is particularly important if you will be visiting the facility frequently for outpatient care. If you‘re traveling a long distance for your care, or if loved ones will be traveling to join you, you’ll also want to think about the distances between the center and the airport and hotels.

Number Three: Ask about the support services at each facility. For instance, will you have access to nutritionists, social workers, and counselors?

Number Four: Find out if the facility offers clinical trials for your type of cancer.

The answers to these questions should help you narrow down your choices about where to receive your cancer care. In addition, several organizations provide free, online databases of accredited cancer centers. These include the National Cancer Institute, the American College of Surgeons, and the Joint Commission. Each group evaluates cancer centers to meet specific standards. For more information, visit

All the information you gather will help you pick the center where you feel most comfortable and confident that you will receive the best care.  

For more information on this topic, talk with your doctor or visit Thank you for listening to this Cancer.Net Podcast.