The primary care physician (PCP) is usually a doctor who has specialized in internal medicine, or the diagnosis and treatment of the medical conditions of adults. This is the doctor you are already seeing for your regular check-ups and will probably be the doctor you already consult for general health problems. Your PCP may be a general practitioner or a family practitioner – a doctor who specializes in treating and caring for the entire family. Or, in some cases, your PCP may be a specialist already being seen for a particular health problem, such as a cardiologist (heart doctor) or gynecologist.
PCPs monitor their patients’ general health and they treat patients for acute and chronic conditions. They also make referrals to specialists when this is indicated. Because it is not unusual for these doctors to see their patients on an ongoing basis, sometimes for years, their patients often develop close relationships with them and feel comfortable discussing their problems and concerns. In some ways, your PCP will be the most important doctor on your medical team as you are treated for mesothelioma or other asbestos diseases, because he or she serves as the “gatekeeper” for all of your health concerns.