Cancer Consult India

Cancer is becoming an increasing burden in society which is also evidently visible in the busy oncology opds at any leading oncology centre. While the patient-doctor ratio for cancer patients is improving the gap is still huge. Cancer being a complex disease ideally requires doctors to spend about 30 mins to an hour especially during the first counselling session. Doctors may be pressed for time due to packed OPDs, and to help you make the best of your time in the oncologist chamber, there are certainly things which can make a difference and make your visit more meaningful. Here are 10 tips to help you prepare before you visit your oncologist.

  1. Records – Cancer is a long and complex treatment and sometimes medical records can become bulky. Its a good idea to file your records in a serial manner, latest being on the top and it would be wonderful if you can flag them as well, so as they can be identified easily. Create a soft copy of the records; this will help make them imperishable.
  1. Summary – If your records file is heavy, prepare a summary of major events with dates, such as date of surgery and its type, dates of chemotherapy and drugs and dose used, dates of radiotherapy, dates of CT scans and PET CT scans, as also major lab reports and doctors prescriptions and summaries.
  1. Visiting time – It is important to place your slot during the regular OPD timings. Cancer is a serious disorder and you need your doctor to be at his best to deliver, requesting for an odd timing to suit your work schedule may not give the best result. Last, be on time for your slot.
  1. Phone – Switch off your phone. Those 30 mins in the doctor’s chamber is your time while he is making the most important decision for the patient. Let not your phone calls take away that time and hamper the concentration in any way.
  1. Prepare – Prepare the list of questions that you need to ask. If you can write it somewhere or on a sheet and keep with your records, it will help you ask everything on your mind and make full of your time with the professional.
  1. Second Opinion – If u came for a second opinion there is no harm in sharing that fact. Cancer is a complex disease with many grey areas where decisions can differ. Be open in sharing opinion of other professionals if you came for a second opinion. Remember, purpose of the meeting is to reach to the best solution for the patient with sound scientific reasoning and evidence from literature.
  1. The Patient – Cancer patients can be too weak to travel or wait in OPD. Although it makes a huge difference in opinion based only on records without physical presence of patient, carrying latest photographs and small videos of physical activity of the patient on your smart phone can be immensely helpful in case of a proxy visit.
  1. Disclosure – Cancer is a shattering and dreaded disease for the individual suffering from it, even if it is highly curable. If you are yet not decided to disclose all details to the sufferer please sound your doctor before. Doctors are otherwise morally bound to communicate explicitly all details to the patient.
  1. Cost – Cancer can weigh heavy on your pocket. Be forthright in discussing cost and your budget with your doctor along with ways and means to reduce cost. All costly treatments may not be proportionally or equivalently effective too. Do allow cost-effectiveness to be a part of the discussion too.
  1. Reading Material– Cancer treatment is more often than not protocolized and guided by standard, well-adopted and reproducible guidelines. Most oncologist will be happy to give you a copy or print of the guidelines they based their decision on, for you to go through. There can be many questions which may surface later. Do ask where to read if you are eager to know more. There are websites which are authentic and give relevant information in patient friendly format.
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