Preparing for check-ups
It may help to write down any questions you have and take this list with you to your appointments (see Questions for your doctor). If your doctor uses medical terms you don’t understand, ask them to explain them in plain English. If you have several questions or concerns, ask for a longer appointment when booking.
Taking notes or making an audio recording during the consultation can help you remember what was discussed. Many people like to have a family member or friend go with them for emotional support or to take part in the discussion. You may wish to ask them to make notes or simply wait in the waiting room.
Tell your doctor or nurse if you have:
- difficulty doing everyday activities
- any new symptoms
- new aches or pains that seem unrelated to an injury, or existing ones that have become worse
- changes in weight or appetite
- feelings of anxiety or depression
- other health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis
- started taking any new medicines or using complementary or alternative treatments.
You can also talk to your health care team about other issues. For example, you may want to discuss changes to your sex life, how cancer has affected your relationships, or practical issues such as returning to work or financial difficulties.
You may want to ask about a referral to see an allied health professional, such as a psychologist, counsellor, speech pathologist, social worker, occupational therapist, lymphoedema practitioner, physiotherapist, exercise physiologist, dietitian or specialist nurse.
Give each health professional you see a copy of your survivorship care plan or treatment summary. If you don’t have one of these, tell them about your cancer diagnosis and treatment, as this may affect the treatment they give you.
Dr Haryana Dhillon, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, NSW; Polly Baldwin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Jessica Barbon, Dietitian, Southern Adelaide Health Network, SA; Dr Anna Burger, Liaison Psychiatrist and Senior Staff Specialist, Psycho-oncology Clinic, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Elizabeth Dillon, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Prof Paul Glare, Chair in Pain Medicineand Director, Pain Management Research Institute, University of Sydney, NSW; Nico le Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Services, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Amanda Piper, Manager, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Kyle Smith, Exercise Medicine Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, WA; Aaron Tan, Consumer; Dr Kate Webber, Medical Oncologist and Research Director, National Centre for Cancer Survivorship, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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