Preparing for Your First Oncology Consultation

If you are diagnosed with cancer, you will be referred to an oncologist, most likely a medical oncologist, for evaluation and treatment recommendations. A medical oncologist specializes in the diagnosis, staging and management of cancer. He/she is specially trained in the safe and appropriate use of chemotherapy, anti-angiogenesis drugs, hormonal therapy, biologics, growth factors and other agents in the treatment of cancer.

Going to your first oncology consultation can cause anxiety. There are many questions to be asked by both the patient and physician. You can take several steps to prepare, which will make the experience easier:

  • Make sure you have any necessary referrals prior to seeing the doctor.
  • Write down questions before your consultation.
  • Forward all of your recent medical records – including operative reports, pathology reports and radiology reports – to our cancer center.
  • Bring all of your recent radiology films – including x-rays, mammograms, CT scans, MRI scans and ultrasounds – if these exams were performed at another location
  • Bring pathology slides if a surgery diagnosing cancer was performed at another location
  • Bring a list of all your medications, as well as any allergies to medications
  • Bring a list of the physicians and addresses where you want reports of the consultation sent
  • Bring your  health insurance identification card, if you have one

It can be a good idea to bring a family member or close friend with you to your appointment to help take notes and ask questions. You can also bring a tape recorder to record your conversation with your doctor.

What to Expect at Your Consultation

Most patients are referred to Arkansas Cancer Institute after a diagnosis of cancer has already been made. Our goal is to confirm that the diagnosis is correct and to ensure the extent of disease has been properly determined. This information is necessary to chart the best course of therapy.

During your consultation, we will review your personal and family medical history and discuss the symptoms or examinations that led to your diagnosis. It will be important to go over your medical records, including recent imaging studies, biopsy or pathology slides and reports, and any medical notes from your referring physicians, so please bring these with you.

By thoroughly reviewing your information, our doctors will be able to customize the best treatment regimen for you. They may ask that you undergo further testing, including blood work or imaging studies, to determine your treatment.

We understand that you will have questions regarding your treatment options. By the time you leave your appointment, you should have answers to the following questions:

  • What kind of cancer do I have?
  • What is the current standard of treatment?
  • What is my treatment recommendation?
  • What have other people chosen to do when faced with a similar treatment decision?
  • What are the treatment schedules and side effects of the recommended treatment plan?

At Arkansas Cancer Institute, we plan your consultation appointment to ensure you and your family walk away satisfied, comfortable, and much more informed.

© 2017 Arkansas Cancer Institute

Back to top