How do I Find a Good Cancer Doctor?

If you have been diagnosed with cancer the next steps can feel overwhelming. No matter what kind of cancer you have, identifying the best treatment for your care is important: Where do you go for information? How do you find a good cancer doctor?

Focus article photo

Leslie DeMars, MD, Gynecological Surgery

When you are diagnosed with cancer one of the most important first steps is to find the physician, treatment plan, and medical center that is best for you. Where do you start and what should you consider first?

Where you receive treatment may determine the cancer doctor you choose

With more common types of cancer, like breast cancer or colorectal cancer, physician referrals and word of mouth suggestions may direct you to the right doctor for you. But if you have a more complex or less common cancer, like sarcoma, neuroblastoma, pancreatic cancer, or ovarian cancer you may want to consider a larger hospital or a comprehensive cancer center.

A recent New York Times article cited a study that showed only 37 percent of women with ovarian cancer receive the best possible care because they are treated by physicians who have little experience with this type of cancer. National Cancer Institute (NCI)–designated comprehensive cancer centers offer state-of-the-art care that includes access to:

  • multidisciplinary teams
  • specialists with experience with rare cancers
  • access to research studies and clinical trials
  • tumor boards, where specialists from all aspects of cancer care meet to discuss diagnoses and treatment plans

The Norris Cotton Cancer Center is one of only 40 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Find a Norris Cotton Cancer Center Doctor.

Word of Mouth: Friends, Family, and Physician Peer Reviews

Learning about cancer treatment usually starts with a referral from your primary care physician, and recommendations from family and friends. In New England, you can expand this word-of-mouth circle with a peer review listing of "Top NH Docs" published by New Hampshire Magazine. Each year the magazine distributes surveys to every physician licensed to practice in the Granite State, asking them to nominate the specialists they would recommend to friends and family (read the whole listing here). The top vote getters are named as "top doctors" and "leading physicians" in their respective specialties. This year five NCCC physicians were named top doctors, and nine made the leading physicians list.

NCCC Top Doctors 

Ira R. Byock, MD, End of Life Care

Richard J. Comi, MD Endocrinology

Leslie DeMars, MD, Gynecological Surgery

Kari M. Rosenkranz, MD, Breast Surgery

Alan R. Schned, MD, Pathology

NCCC Leading physicians

Rocco R. Addante, DMD, MD, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Perry A. Ball, MD, Neurosurgery
M. Shane Chapman, MD, Dermatology
Stuart R. Gordon, MD, Gastroenterology
John J. Murray, MD, Colon/Rectal Surgery
Joseph A. Paydarfar, MD, Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery
David W. Roberts, MD, Neurosurgery
Bassem I. Zaki, MD, Radiation Oncology
Kathryn A. Zug, MD, Dermatology

Other Resources

How to Find the Best Cancer Treatment
With the help of two nationally renowned cancer experts, WebMD answers your top 10 questions about what to do after you've been diagnosed with cancer, and how to find the best treatment.

How to Find a Doctor or Treatment Facility If You Have Cancer (NCI)
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is part of the US National Institutes for Health and dedicated to better understanding, diagnosing, treating, and preventing cancer.

Choosing Your Treatment Team
The American Cancer Society's website also has information on finding treatment that is right for you.

US News and World Reports Top Doctors
A selection of the nation's best doctors based on a peer nomination process.

April 08, 2013