"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

ASCO President on the doctor-patient relationship

You or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer. As you start treatment, you look to your care team to guide you thru this physically and emotionally demanding illness.

To ensure the perfect possible treatment, your relationship together with your healthcare team ought to be an energetic partnership. Your doctors will strive to offer you clear and honest details about what is happening in your body. In return, you must educate yourself about your treatment options, know what to anticipate, and be open about your needs and treatment experience. This way, your treatment shall be just best for you.

According to Dr. Eric Winer, an excellent doctor-patient partnership is the cornerstone of clinical care and research. Winer is director of the Yale Cancer Center and chief physician of the Smilow Cancer Hospital. He can also be president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Much of his commitment to patient care stems from his personal experience as a patient each in childhood and as an adult, which is why he selected “Partnership with Patients” because the presidential theme for the 2023 ASCO Conference.

“The topic was chosen very deliberately. I do a lot of things and have done a lot of things in my career. I've taught, I've done research, I've taken care of patients. But everything I do is fundamentally based on patient care and has come from my interest in making patient care as good as possible for everyone,” Winer said.

Your cancer team just isn’t just your doctor. There are several other healthcare providers. These include nurses, social staff, patient advocates and other medical professionals.

With so many individuals on board, open communication is the perfect strategy to ensure everyone seems to be on the identical page. This will assist you easily coordinate treatment options—from chemotherapy appointments, doctor visits, and insurance inquiries to aftercare.

“I think, I imagine it like this: the medical team is an expert in the medical treatment. The patient and sometimes the patient's family [member] is an expert on the patient. And it is necessary to bring together both the medical judgment and the knowledge, the very comprehensive knowledge of the patient, to make the right decision,” Winer said.

Winer also points out that patients shouldn't worry about “taking up too much time” or “annoying the doctor.” In fact, the other is true. Speaking up about what's bothering you and expressing your concerns, corresponding to pain, might help construct a stronger relationship together with your cancer care team.

“You want to have a trusting relationship,” he said.

Studies show that patients who experience compassionate, patient-centered care and “feel like they are part of the team” are inclined to receive higher quality care.

“Patients who [have] “Strong partnerships have better overall outcomes, shorter hospital stays, higher satisfaction with care and generally appear to be more successful,” Winer said.

This is since you usually tend to feel listened to and understood together with your values.

This may include having clarity about your legal rights, your role or the role of your family members in decision-making, and your healthcare interactions.

The trust you construct together with your doctor may also assist you make difficult decisions, corresponding to participating in clinical trials or other research projects.

A clinical trial is a type of care in a research setting wherein doctors test latest tests, treatments, or procedures compared to straightforward care. These studies are done on a voluntary basis.

This allows researchers to search out out whether the brand new drug or treatment is best or more practical than the prevailing one. For example, the experimental drug might need fewer unwanted effects or just work higher or faster.

Clinical trials are well researched and punctiliously vetted before you possibly can participate in them, but there continues to be a risk.

This is because your doctors may not have the ability to predict how well you’ll reply to the brand new treatment. And If the trial is randomized, you might or may not receive the newer treatment as a part of the trial design.

“If [a doctor] “If a patient wants to contemplate participating in clinical trials or other research studies, it's really necessary that the patient understands what this research is about, what the clinical trials are about, and that every one of this is feasible through an efficient partnership,” Winer said.

Even if you develop a close relationship with your doctor, Winer says you don't have to be “friends” with them. Instead, focus on being proactive about deciding what works for you and advocating for your specific needs.

“I think what makes a good partner is clear communication, listening, responding and respect,” Winer said.

There are many types of cancer and tumor subtypes. Treatment can be different for each type and change depending on how far the tumor has spread in your body. It may take some time to choose the treatment that fits your lifestyle. To make an informed decision, you should first learn everything you can about it.

For example, if a particular treatment is taking up a lot of time and preventing you from spending time with your children or other loved ones, you may want to consider an alternative. This requires an honest discussion with your doctor. He or she can then help you weigh the risks and benefits of the available options and find the one that is best for you.

Here are some things you can do to build a good relationship with your doctor:

Prepare in your visit. Take a number of minutes to assemble all of your records, note any latest symptoms or unwanted effects, and note any changes in medications or insurance.

Bring a listing of questions with you. Doctor's appointments are sometimes short. To benefit from them, write down all of your questions in your phone or on paper. Ask a very powerful ones first.

Bring someone near you with you to your appointment. If you might be nervous or feel overwhelmed by your cancer treatment, you might be welcome to bring someone with you who can represent you. This person may also assist you make decisions when you are unable to achieve this.

Be honest together with your doctor. Don't hold back from expressing your thoughts or concerns. This includes talking openly about lifestyle habits corresponding to smoking or drinking alcohol, or unwanted effects of treatment corresponding to lack of appetite or trouble sleeping. These things may affect the standard or effectiveness of your treatment.

Ask inquiries to properly understand your care plan. Whether it's lab tests, blood draws, or scheduling chemotherapy appointments, be certain that you understand each step of your treatment plan. If you don't, ask your doctor or other members of your care team to elucidate it to you.

Follow your care plan fastidiously. Most cancer treatments are tailored to your needs. Stick to the plan, but tell your doctor if any a part of it, corresponding to the medication dose or the suggestion to give up smoking, doesn't be just right for you. Your treatment team may have the ability to supply alternative options that work higher for you.