- Cancer Information
- Caring for someone with cancer
- What carers do
- Medical care
- Medical appointments
Making the most of a medical appointment
Below are some tips on how to make the most of a doctor’s appointment.
Before the visit
- Write a list of the questions you both have so you don’t forget them during the actual appointment. For suggestions, see the question checklists in our Cancer Council booklets.
- Work out your most pressing questions as time may be limited. Ask for a longer appointment if you have a lot of questions.
- Do some research so you can ask informed questions. Find reliable information sources here.
- Keep a record of the medicines the person is taking, including any vitamins and complementary therapies. Note the dose and any side effects.
- Check with the receptionist that the health professional has received results for scans, blood tests and other tests.
- Record any recent changes in the person’s condition or symptoms so you can tell the health professional about them.
During the visit
- Take notes or ask the health professional if you can record the discussion (many mobile phones have a recording function).
- Write down any specific instructions.
- Check who to contact if you are worried about any changes and ask for an after-hours number.
- Clarify anything you don’t understand.
- Ask the health professional if they can give you printed material or tell you where to find more information.
- Check what changes in the person’s physical condition you should watch out for and what to do about them.
- Look over the list of questions you brought along to check that they have all been answered.
After the visit
- Review your notes.
- Discuss the visit with the person you are caring for. If you have any questions, call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
- Call the health professional for test results, if appropriate.
- Record the next appointment in a diary or calendar.
- Contact the health professional about changes or side effects.
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Dr Laura Kirsten, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, NSW; Mary Bairstow, Senior Social Worker, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Anne Booms, Nurse Practitioner – Supportive and Palliative Care, Icon Cancer Centre Midland, WA; Dr Erica Cameron-Taylor, Staff Specialist, Department of Palliative Care, Mercy Hospice, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Tracey Gardner, Senior Psychologist, Cancer Counselling Service, Cancer Council Queensland; Louise Good, Cancer Nurse Consultant, WA; Verity Jausnik, Senior Policy Officer, Carers Australia; David Larkin, Cancer Supportive Care Manager, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital and Health Service, ACT; Kate Martin, Consumer; John McMath, Consumer; Simone Noelker, Physiotherapist and Wellness Centre Coordinator, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, VIC; Tara Redemski, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Dean Rowe, Consumer; Chris Sibthorpe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
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