What to Expect From Your Health-Care Team

Before the era of modern medicine, doctors were expected to be all things to all people. Because medical science and cancer care have become highly complex, you will have an opportunity to talk to other professionals whose knowledge and skills are different from your doctor's. Cancer care requires a team approach. The medical team includes your doctor and those consultants he or she uses to help you. Other members of the team (nurses, social workers, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, nutritionists, clergy and patient representatives) should be available to you if you need their services. It's impossible for your doctor to have the special knowledge these people have acquired in their education and experience, just as they do not have a doctor's specialized knowledge of medicine. Your doctor should make you aware of all available services so you can decide if they would be helpful. If you do work with one or more of these professionals, you can expect that they and your doctor will work together on the coordination of your care and that everyone will be working toward the same goalhelping you maintain the quality of your life. Good cancer care is a team effort, and your doctor should refer you to those team members who, if necessary, will help you manage your illness.