Talking to your doctor can be difficult, regardless of your diagnosis or medical concern. Often just going to the doctor may feel like an overwhelming experience, fraught with anxiety, frustration, and more questions than answers. It is important to remember that doctors and your healthcare team are there for you, as their goal is to help you on your path to a healthy life.
Communicating honestly and openly with your doctors or healthcare providers can greatly improve the quality of care you receive. We suggest that you put together a team of medical experts to help you navigate your pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Like any good team, certain people specialize in different aspects of care and can offer varying opinions. Some facilities have a team-approach or integrated practice units (IPU), but other places you need to seek out and create your own lineup of specialists.
Below we offer a list of healthcare specialist who may be beneficial for your treatment journey. If you would like more information or resources, Patient Support is here to help.
Anesthesiologist – The individual who provides anesthesia, a medication so you do not feel pain during procedures and surgery.
Gastroenterologist – A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the digestive system. Gastroenterologists are also trained in endoscopy, the use of narrow, flexible lighted tubes with built-in video cameras, to visualize the inside of the intestinal tract.
Integrative Medicine – A treatment approach that combines the use of eastern and western medicine. The focus is on the whole patient – mind, body, spirit and community.
Medical Oncologist – A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. After a cancer diagnosis is made, it is the oncologist’s role to explain the cancer diagnosis and the meaning of the disease stage to the patient; discuss various treatment options; recommend the best course of treatment; deliver optimal care; and improve quality of life both through curative therapy and palliative care with pain and symptom management. Often the medical oncologist leads the overall treatment team to keep track of the tests and exams.
Nurse Case Manager – The person responsible in the process of organizing and coordinating resources and services in response to individual healthcare needs along the illness and care continuum.
Oncology Certified Nurses – A nurse who specializes in treatment of patients with cancer and has passed a certification examination, developed and administered by the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation. These nurses often provide hands-on care such as answering questions, managing care, and helping you cope with the side effects of treatment. Learn more from our Nurses Guide to Pancreatic Cancer.
Pain Management Specialist – A pain management specialist is a physician with special training in evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of all different types of pain. Pain is actually a wide spectrum of disorders including acute pain, chronic pain, cancer pain, and sometimes a combination of these. Your pain management may include traditional medication as well as alternative treatments and even cannabis.
Palliative care – Treatment provided by a specially-trained team of doctors, nurses and specialists who work together to provide an extra layer of support. It can be a means of helping patients and their families clarify their goals of care while providing symptom management, psychosocial guidance, and spiritual support.
Pathologist – Someone who studies the cells, tissues and organs removed during a biopsy or surgery to help determine the disease. Pathology is the science or the study of the origin, nature, and course of diseases. A pathologist is a physician who interprets and diagnoses the changes caused by disease in tissues and body fluids.
Pharmacist – A person who is professionally qualified to prepare and dispense medicinal drugs. There are large, chain pharmacies, some online pharmacies and local pharmacies that should supply your needed prescriptions, we encourage you to find what works best for you.
Psychologist & psychiatrist – Mental health experts who can help manage the emotional toll of a cancer diagnosis. Through talk therapy, medication and other techniques, these experts can help manage issues such as anxiety, depression, and more. There are also support groups to help navigate the emotions that arise with a cancer diagnosis.
Radiation Oncologist – A physician whose specialty is the use of radiation therapy as a treatment for cancer.
Registered Dietitian – A specialist trained in foods and the management of diets who consults with patients regarding their nutrition before, during and after chemotherapy.
Surgical Oncologist – A surgeon who performs operations to remove cancer.
Social Worker – A professional and academic discipline that seeks to improve the quality of life and subjective well-being of individuals, families, couples, groups, and communities. Social workers can help solve and cope with the everyday problems that arise following a cancer diagnosis.