Managing Treatments

How to Choose a Cancer Hospital for Your Treatment

Quality cancer care is a team effort, and you'll want to find a center with a team of experts who know how to treat your disease.

Once you learn you have cancer, you have a big decision ahead of you — where to receive treatment. Some people like to choose a doctor first and then choose a facility where that doctor practices. Others prefer to choose the facility first and then a doctor within that facility.

The doctor who diagnosed your cancer is good place to start for recommendations. Receiving care at a cancer hospital or designated cancer treatment center can help ensure you get complete care seamlessly. Cancer treatment is highly personalized and specialized, and requires the expertise of multiple team members. You’re not just evaluating a doctor, but the entire organization of people and services you can receive. You’ll likely want to find a cancer hospital that meets your needs in the following areas.

Convenience

A hospital that specializes in cancer care is more likely to offer all the services you need on one campus. During your treatment journey, you may need imaging scans, surgery, nutrition consults, physical therapy, chemotherapy, radiation, social work and other services. Having to drive across town or even out of town for some services can add to the challenges of receiving treatment.

Many cancer hospitals will assist you in scheduling these appointments, easing some of the stress. In a larger cancer center, you may also have access to supportive services like mental health resources, chaplains, palliative care and more.

Experience

Finding a doctor or care team with experience treating your specific type of cancer is key to getting the best outcomes. For a rare disease, such as LGL leukemia, you may be limited in the number of centers with experts related to your diagnosis.

Most often, you will need to travel to a large center for some of your care if you have a rare cancer. You’re also likely to find experienced surgeons who can perform complex procedures in larger cancer centers.

Quality and Outcomes

Cancer centers can achieve certain designations based on their services, quality, outcomes and experience. Here are just a few to look for:

  • Joint Commission – Accreditation by the Joint Commission means that the hospital has met certain standards for quality. You can find a hospital’s accreditation status on Quality Check.
  • Commission on Cancer (CoC) – The American College of Surgeons has accredited more than 1,500 organizations around the country through the CoC for their commitment to providing quality cancer care.
  • National Cancer Institute (NCI) – NCI-designated cancer centers provide quality care along with research and clinical trials. If you have an extremely rare cancer or one for which there are no standard treatment options, you may benefit from an NCI-designated cancer center and the access to clinical trials.

Travel and Coordination

You may need to travel to receive the best care for your disease. Talk to the cancer center about grants or financial assistance to help you cover the costs of travel and lodging. Once you get beyond your initial diagnosis and treatment, your doctor may be able to coordinate ongoing care back in your community.

Many cancer center experts will consult with oncologists and primary care physicians in your community to ensure that your continued care meets expectations without you having to travel.

Choosing a cancer center for your care is a big decision. Call around, ask questions and interview different doctors until you find the place that you feel is best for you.

UVA Cancer Center is accredited by the Joint Commission, the CoC and NCI, plus many others, and provides high-quality care in a team environment. Visit our website to learn more about why UVA Cancer Center might a good choice for your cancer care.

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Patricia Chaney
Patricia Chaney