Care and Treatment Decision Factors: Quality vs. Convenience

Care and treatment decisions should never be based on convenience or closeness to home. Care and treatment decisions should be based on where you will receive the best care and access to the very latest treatment options. e.g., a treatment center that frequently treats and does research on Melanoma.

Get a Second Opinion

Before starting treatment, the patient might want a second opinion about the diagnosis and the treatment plan. Some insurance companies require a second opinion; others may cover a second opinion if the patient or doctor requests it. There are a number of ways to find a doctor for a second opinion.

There are a number of ways to find a doctor for a second opinion.

  • The patient’s doctor may refer the patient to one or more specialists. At cancer centers, several specialists often work together as a team.
  • The Cancer Information Service, at 1–800–4–CANCER, can tell callers about nearby treatment centers.
  • A local or state medical society, a nearby hospital, or a medical school can usually provide the names of specialists.

The Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists lists doctors’ names along with their specialty and their educational background.

Board-certified doctors have met specific education and training requirements and have passed an examination given by a specialty board. The directory is available in most public libraries.

The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) also offers information about board certification by telephone and on the Internet. The toll-free telephone number is 1–866–ASK–ABMS (1–866–275–2267). The Internet address is

Prepare for Treatment

People with melanoma often want to take an active part in making decisions about their medical care. They want to learn all they can about their disease and their treatment choices. However, shock and stress after a diagnosis of a melanoma can make it hard to think of everything to ask the doctor. It often helps to make a list of questions before an appointment.

To help remember what the doctor says, patients may take notes or ask whether they may use a tape recorder. Some also want to have a family member or friend with them when they talk to the doctor—to take part in the discussion, to take notes, or just to listen.

Ask Your Physician Questions

These are some questions a patient may want to ask the doctor before treatment begins:

  • What is my diagnosis?
  • What is the stage of my disease?
  • What are my treatment choices? Which do you recommend for me? Why?
  • What are the benefits of each kind of treatment?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
  • How will I feel after surgery?
  • If I have pain, how will it be controlled?
  • Will I need more treatment after surgery?
  • Will there be a scar? Will I need a skin graft or plastic surgery?
  • What is the treatment likely to cost?
  • Will treatment affect my normal activities? If so, for how long?
  • How often will I need checkups?
  • Would a clinical trial (research study) be appropriate for me?
  • Can you help me find one?