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What Happens After Diagnosis?

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is difficult. Being educated about your type of cancer and options for treatment is very important. Talk with your health care provider. Any question that you have is legitimate and valid. Keep a list of these questions for your visits. Depending upon your type of cancer, your health care provider may refer you to a surgeon, a medical oncologist (a physician who treats with chemotherapy), a radiation oncologist (a physician who treats with radiation therapy) or to a combination of these specialists. If you are coming from outside of the Bassett Healthcare Network, we will ask that you sign a release so that we can obtain your medical records. Once your records are obtained, your first visit(s) will be scheduled.

Your First Visit

Your first visit will last approximately 60 minutes. During this visit, the physician will go over your medical records, examine you, describe your type of cancer and speak with you about treatment options. You will be receiving a lot of information very quickly. We recommend bringing a notebook and taking notes. There is a list of questions on this Web site to consider asking your physician on your first visit. If you don’t understand what you are being told, it is important to ask the physician to explain the information again. After your visit, the physician may request that you have blood tests, radiology scans, or other procedures prior to beginning any possible treatment. If your physician wants you to have additional tests, these will be performed or scheduled before you leave. If your physician orders treatment, our staff will work with your insurance company to obtain prior authorization for these services. When the necessary prior authorizations are obtained, you will be called with a treatment start date. Prior authorizations can take up to three business days to obtain.

On your first visit, you will also complete a social services questionnaire and see a social worker. The purpose of seeing a social worker is to identify any barriers to care and to help you obtain resources if you need them.

Treatment Visits and Follow-Up Care

Joy-Anderson-MD.jpgDuring treatment a variety of professionals will be involved in your care including your oncologist, consulting physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, technicians from various disciplines, social workers, dieticians and at your request pastoral care and pet therapy staff. You will continue to see your primary care provider for non-cancer related issues and your oncologist will work closely with him or her to ensure that all of your health care needs are met. During your course of treatment, you will have regular blood tests and/or radiology scans. Our staff will always try to coordinate appointments to avoid duplicate trips; however, some procedures require a separate visit due to the frequency with which they are performed, or due to the length of time necessary for completion.

At the conclusion of treatment, your oncologist will recommend a follow-up appointment schedule. For follow-up appointments you will alternate between seeing your nurse practitioner/physician assistant and seeing your oncologist. Your nurse practitioner/physician assistant will discuss your visit with the oncologist who oversees your care.

Other Questions you should consider:

Kelly-Morris-RN-(chemo-room).jpgWhat type of cancer do I have? What is the stage or extent of my cancer?
What treatment do you recommend and why?
What is the goal of treatment; cure or control of my symptoms?
What are the possible risks or side effects of treatment?
Are there other treatments for me to consider?
How often will I need to come in for treatment or tests?
How long will my treatments last?
What if I miss a treatment?
Will my life change? Will I need to make changes in my work, family life and leisure time?
What are the names of the drugs I will take? What are they for?
How will you know that my treatment is working?
Why do I need a blood test and how often?
If other specialists take part in my care, who will coordinate my entire treatment program?
What symptoms or problems should I report right away?
Are there any special foods I should or should not eat?
Can I drink alcoholic beverages?
Can I have sex during treatment?
What costs will I have?
What is the best time to call you if I have a question?
Will someone help me with forms required by my employer?
What if I need someone to help at home?
Will my treatment require me to be an inpatient?
What if I can’t afford the treatment?
What if I can’t drive?

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