Finding a New Doctor

April 30, 2012
Download MP3 (3.75 MB/4:06)

In this podcast, we talk about how to cope when switching to a new doctor, where to search for oncologists, and how to narrow down your list of doctors to find the right one for you.


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

Today we’ll discuss how to find a new doctor.

At some point, you may need to search for a new oncologist. This may be because you’re moving to a new location, changing health insurance plans, or your doctor is moving or retiring.

In this podcast, we’ll talk about how to cope when switching to a new doctor, where to search for oncologists, and how to narrow down your list of doctors to find the right one for you.

Having to change doctors may be upsetting. Many people with cancer develop a strong, long-term relationship with their doctors. You may count on your doctor’s support and worry that you won’t be able to find a new one that you like and trust as much as your current doctor.  However, it’s important to remember that there are steps you can take to find a new oncologist who you trust and feel comfortable with.

The first place to start is to create a list of possible doctors. Here are six ways you can search for oncologists.

Number one: Ask your current oncologist and primary care physician to recommend doctors in your area.

Two: Call your health insurance plan's member services line and ask for a list of oncologists.

Three: Call local hospitals and ask for recommendations through their physician referral service.

Four: Contact the National Cancer Institute, or NCI, to find your nearest NCI-designated cancer center, which can provide information on oncologists who practice there.

Five: Ask for recommendations from people you know who have had cancer, such as through a cancer support group.

And six: Search online physician directories. ASCO provides a free, searchable database of oncologists at Other medical associations, such as the American Board of Medical Specialties, also offer searchable databases of doctors.

Once you have a list of potential oncologists, consider finding out the following information about each doctor to help you narrow down your choices:

  • the doctor's education, training, and board certification,

  • the number of patients with your type of cancer that the doctor sees each year,

  • if the doctor participates in your insurance plan,

  • and how easy it is to get an appointment or speak to the doctor.

You may find this information from your referral, or you can contact the doctor's office directly. Consider calling a few oncologists to schedule a consultation to meet the doctor and office staff.  Keep in mind that you may be charged for the doctor's time and it may not be covered by your health insurance.

You’ll also get a sense of the doctor's communication and practice style during your search. Take note of how comfortable you feel with each oncologist, including whether the doctor talks to you in a way you can understand, and encourages and answers your questions.

All the information you gather will help you decide which doctor is right for you. Trust your instincts and remember that it may take time for you and your new oncologist to develop a comfortable relationship. Remember that if you aren’t happy with your choice over a period of time, then you have the tools to switch to a different doctor.

For more information, visit Lineagotica is supported by the Conquer Cancer Foundation, which is working to create a world free from the fear of cancer by funding breakthrough research, sharing knowledge with physicians and patients worldwide, and supporting initiatives to ensure that all people have access to high-quality cancer care. Thank you for listening to this Lineagotica podcast.