Choosing a Gynecologic Oncologist: A Guide for Patients

You will probably be referred to our practice by your family doctor or ob-gyn. Here are some points to consider when choosing a gynecologic oncologist:

  • Does the doctor have an active board certification in Gynecologic Oncology by the American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists?
    • Insures an advanced level of education and training
    • Insures continuing education with emphasis on up-to-date practices
    • Requires a comprehensive review of specific patient management by a board of experts
    • Requires written and oral examinations specific to the treatment of gynecologic cancers
  • Does the doctor have adequate practical experience?
    • A doctor within a year or two of training may lack the wisdom and judgment that can only come with experience
  • Is the doctor easy to communicate with? Do the staff and office atmosphere make you feel comfortable?

Pittsburgh Gynecologic Oncology is a private practice with a small staff. Dr. Fredric Price is certified in Gynecologic Oncology by the American Board. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He received his undergraduate bachelor’s degree in History from Yale University, and graduated from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in 1986. He completed his residency in Ob-Gyn at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and completed his fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at Yale University in 1992. Dr. Price was a member of the division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh for five years before opening his own practice based in the Mellon Pavilion attached to West Penn Hospital. He has privileges at West Penn and at Shadyside hospital. You may view his Curriculum Vitae.

Dr. Price’s philosophy is to focus on the patient as an individual, and to maintain good communication with the patient and with her doctors. Patients in the practice can take part in academic studies and medical trials when appropriate, but the care and comfort of the patient is foremost. When you call PGO, a member of the staff will answer the phone. If the lines are busy, you can leave a message and a member of the staff or Dr. Price will return your call right away. You can also email Dr. Price from our Contact Us page.

Preparing for your first appointment

Your first appointment with PGO will probably be the longest. Before your appointment, Dr. Price or Sharon will call you to ask some general questions about your health. This is a good time to get acquainted in a relaxed setting – at home. You can gain an understanding of how we ask questions and what we need to know, and share any concerns you have about your health or your upcoming appointment. The telephone conversation will also give you some time before your appointment to think about what you might want to ask when you are in the office.

What to bring with you:

  • Insurance and medical history forms. We will mail you forms before your appointment, if time permits, or you can download them from this site:
  • All medical information relevant to your current problem
    • Previous medical records
    • X-rays, CT scans, pathology slides or other studies
      • Please bring the actual films and slides from the facility where the testing was done. Dr. Price reviews films and slides daily and will discuss your tests with radiologists and pathologists
      • It is preferable to have your studies on CD-ROM (and they are easier for you to carry)

When you arrive for an appointment

  • Please check in at the window in the waiting room and give us any forms and records you brought with you
    • Your time is valuable. If Dr. Price is running late, we will make every attempt to inform patients before they arrive
    • We fit in patients with a new diagnosis of cancer as soon as possible
    • Sometimes emergencies cause us to reorganize scheduled appointments

Your examination and consultation

  • While you are preparing for your examination, Dr. Price is reviewing your records.
    • You may first be examined by Sharon and then by Dr. Price
  • You are free to ask any questions during your examination
    • You will also talk to Dr. Price in his office after your examination, along with family members if you wish.
    • At this time, Dr. Price will explain options for managing your specific problem, along with risks, benefits, and alternatives
    • If you would like a second opinion, Dr. Price will direct you to other specialists in Pittsburgh.

Preparing for your follow-up appointment

Follow-up appointments generally take less time than the initial appointment, and include:

  • specific questions about how things are going
  • a review of lab tests and X-rays
  • a full examination

We will also ask you to fill out a Review of Systems, which will help us keep track of how things are going. This is the same form you filled out in your first appointment.

Follow-up appointments are just one piece of navigating treatment. We're here to help, and contact us if anything changes.

A Letter from Dr. Price

Patients’ families frequently ask me if a recommendation I am making would be the same if the patient were my wife, sister or mother. The answer in every case is yes. I use the same standard for each woman who comes to me. My approach to medicine is based on a simple ethical guideline: one should always treat one’s patient as they would want to be treated themselves.

When a patient calls my office with a problem, I try to make her problem my own. The best way I have found to do this is to explore her life situation, her attitudes about her body and expectations about her health. I try to get to know her and win her confidence – because no matter what lies ahead for that patient, being able to communicate comfortably with her doctor will help.

Most patients who are referred to our office are understandably anxious, not only about the diagnosis for which they have been referred, but also about what will happen next. They may worry that the examination or treatment will be painful or embarrassing, that the medical personnel they encounter will be rude or unkind.

Our practice is committed to maintaining a high level of kindness and understanding at every step of the process. We know that patients need to be brought into our systems gently, and with respect for their own needs and timetables.

The Preliminary Interview

In order to allay anxiety, we try to make personal contact with each new patient as soon as possible and take a medical history over the telephone. Frequently these interviews occur on the day that the referral or appointment is made. A member of our staff and I conduct these interviews, and we take our time. We encourage patients to take their time, to tell us their story in their own way. This is a chance to get to know each other – a process that in itself helps to relieve anxiety. It helps to have a friendly conversation before a difficult appointment.

The Appointment

When a patient is referred to our practice, we don’t want them to have to wait for an appointment. We keep slots for new patient appointments open on the schedule, and sometimes we can see a patient the day she is referred. We encourage all our patients to have family members stay with them during their appointment, if that is most comfortable for them. Patients are offered privacy and autonomy throughout the examination, and after the exam patients and family members join me in the consultation room for an extended discussion of the current problem.

At all times, patients are encouraged to ask questions and get to know us.

In the consultation room, I go over patients X-rays with them, which I have found to be an extremely clear way to illustrate a patient’s condition. I often draw a picture of the anatomy of the area in question, show them the findings of my examination, and give patients a copy of my notes.

Sometimes I do an internet search while the patient is in the room so that I can show her the latest information about a topic. There is no substitute for establishing confidence in your specialist when you have a serious illness.

Decision-making

We never pressure patients to make treatment decisions. I encourage each patient to consider other options, obtain second opinions. We can provide phone numbers and addresses of other specialists, and facilitate trips to other centers for evaluation.

Patients’ wishes form the basis for each treatment plan. We are eager to provide all information possible so they can understand why one particular treatment is better than another or why I am making one recommendation over another. These are complicated decisions, and sometimes even the medical community is itself confused about effective treatment plans. It is important, in my view, that the patient hear about current management controversies and resolve them for her own situation on her own terms. My function is as a teacher and ally.

Part of the treatment planning process is reviewing materials that have led to a diagnosis or a referral. Generally, I like to confirm a pathologic diagnosis or review diagnostic images such as ultrasounds, CT scans and MRI scans.

Treatment

Gynecologic Oncology is unique in medicine, in that our training includes cancer epidemiology and statistics as well as clinical medicine. We are qualified to perform specialized surgery related to cancer and other conditions, assist with radiation planning and treatment, and administer and supervise chemotherapy.

Follow-up

After the treatment is complete, we continue to care for our patients as long as they are at significant risk for recurrent disease or complications from therapy. In the immediate post-treatment period, patients are seen frequently. After several years, appointments are scheduled less frequently, depending on the acuity of the initial problem.

Communication

Communication with patients, their families, and their referring doctors continues to be crucial after the decisions are made and treatment is begun. All test results are given to patients directly by our staff. Phone calls are made as soon as biopsy results are available. CT scan reports are discussed immediately. We pride ourselves on being accessible. Having been patients ourselves, we recognize the importance of rapid transmission of test results to our patients.

Each patient is asked which other doctors should be included in communications by our office. For each patient visit, a letter is sent the same day to the referring doctor, the primary care doctor, and any specialists the patient designates to receive correspondence. In that way, the physicians who play an important role in a patient’s well-being will know the results of our encounters.

I hope this letter clarifies what you can expect from us, and relieves some of your anxiety. If you need to ask us anything, or tell us anything, please don’t hesitate to do so, by email or phone call or whatever works best for you. The only reason we’re here is to help you.

Sincerely,
Fredric V. Price, MD

Download Dr. Price's Curriculum Vitae

Contact Us

Dr. Fredric V. Price
4815 Liberty Avenue, Suite 304
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

tel. 412-578-1116 (option 2)
fax. 412-605-6396

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2315 Myrtle Street, Suite 290
Erie, PA 16502

tel. 814-454-1142
fax. 814-454-1255

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Welcome

Dealing with illness - and choosing a doctor when you are ill - can cause a great deal of anxiety. We hope this web site will help you manage your own care or that of a loved one, and answer some questions. It can't take the place of conversations with your doctor. It's simply a place to start.