People visit the doctor for any number of reasons. An achy back, an annual physical or even an especially pesky cold may compel people to book appointments with their physicians. Many such appointments do not require follow-up visits, but those that do may yield information that patients should keep readily available.
Such is the case for people being treated for cancer. A cancer diagnosis can give way to a whirlwind of activity as patients consult with their primary care physicians as well as specialists with expertise in treating certain types of the disease. Patients can sometimes feel inundated with information, which can prove confusing at a time when they need to make important decisions regarding their care. To help cut back on that confusion and to facilitate treatment, the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommends that cancer patients keep the following information on file.
– Cancer care team contact information: The ASCO recommends patients maintain a detailed list of the doctors, specialists and treatment centers. List contact information for each, including their regular office phone numbers as well as any emergency contact info they may have provided.
– Test results: Keep copies of diagnostic test results and pathology reports. If possible, scan such reports and save them to a computer or external hard drive in case the physical documents are damaged or misplaced.
– Diagnosis: Keep a document detailing your specific diagnosis, including the type of cancer you have and the stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis.
– Treatments: Keep a detailed list of all treatments you have received. This list should include the names of drugs you have taken as well as the doses of each drug. The ASCO advises patients who have been treated with radiation to include the site and dosage amounts of radiation therapy. Include any side effects of treatment you have experienced as well.
– Schedule: An easily accessible schedule of all appointments, including follow-up care, can ensure you donÕt miss any sessions or appointments.
– Personal history: A detailed list of your personal medical history, including other major illnesses, chronic health conditions or hospitalizations, can help your care team better understand your situation and help caregivers more effectively communicate with your cancer team.
– Family history: A detailed family history, specifically your familyÕs history with cancer, can help your care team as they design your individual treatment plan.
Cancer patients may be inundated with information during diagnosis and subsequent treatments. Keeping important information on hand and readily accessible can help patients and their cancer care teams as treatment begins.