Your treatment management

Maximising appointments

Being told you have cancer can be a scary and stressful time. It can bring up all sorts of questions and worries, including who you can turn to for answers and advice. It's important to remember that your appointments are a time for you to talk about your concerns, so you can fully understand your treatment, and feel positive about your care. 

To help you get the most out of your appointments, we’ve put together some tips and actions you can use throughout your treatment journey.  

  • Write down a list of things you want to discuss with your doctor, including:
    • Any questions you have
    • How you have been feeling
    • Any changes in your body that you’ve noticed
    • Any worries, including those related to work or caring for your family
    • Issues related to your treatment
    • Support or resources available to you
  • If you have a calendar, journal, or other way of tracking your treatment, make sure that you have filled it in and take that with you. This will help your doctor quickly identity if they need to make any adjustments to your treatment
  • Decide if you’d like a friend or loved one to go to the appointment with you. Having someone else there will give you extra emotional support, and will mean somebody else is able to listen to what the doctor has to say too
  • Plan how you’re going to get to your appointment. You might want to check public transport timetables, ask someone to drive you, or set a reminder to bring change for the hospital car park

If you’re going for a scan, check if you need to follow any advice beforehand (you can read more about scans here

Remember your appointment is dedicated time to talk about you, your body, and your health. Below we have provided some tips to help you make sure that you ask useful questions and can understand your doctor’s answers.

  • Take notes during your appointment to help remind yourself of what your doctor has told you. If you take somebody with you, they can also take notes 
  • If you can, ask your doctor for their name, role, and contact information in case you have any questions after your appointment
  • If your doctor allows it, you may want to record your visit
  • Don’t be afraid of asking your doctor or healthcare team to repeat themselves. If you don’t understand what they are saying, tell them this, and they can try to rephrase in a way in which you understand 
  • Try repeating things back to your doctor. For example, start your sentences with ‘So you mean I should…’ This can help clarify what is being said so you remember it later

If you are getting the results from a recent scan, then some of the below questions might be helpful:

  • How do the results of this scan/test compare to my last one?
  • What does this mean for me?
  • Has my treatment had an effect on my cancer? 
  • Are these the kinds of results you would expect for somebody like me, given my diagnosis and cancer stage?
  • What are my next treatment steps based on these results?
  • Are any parts of the scan/test unclear? Would an additional scan/test provide more information?
  • Will there be any follow-up tests from this?
  • Do these results mean that I need to change any medications I am taking?
  • Should I make any lifestyle changes based on these results?
  • Can I check that I’ve understood what you’ve said? My understanding is that…
  • Can I have a copy of these results, or a letter summarising them?
  • Will these results (and any implications of them) be shared with my PCP/GP/family doctor?
  • When will I need another scan/test?
  • If I have follow-up questions after today, whom can I contact?
  • Can you recommend any other groups or organisations if I need more support around these results later?

After your appointment, it’s important to review what you have learned. If you took a friend or family member with you, you could compare your notes with theirs. Appointments can be stressful, particularly ones based around scans and test results, so make sure you take some time out after your appointment to relax and unwind.

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