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Newly Diagnosed With Cancer

Contact the doctor who diagnosed you or the doctor's nurse or office manager. Ask for a repeat of the basics, including how long you have to make a decision..

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Ask your doctor to repeat the important parts of what he or she told you when you were given your diagnosis. Studies indicate that patients do not hear much of what is said after bad news is delivered. In one study, more than half of the provided information was forgotten. For example, consider asking the following questions:

  • What is the exact diagnosis?   
  • What is the next step you should take? If the next recommended step is to see a different doctor, what specialty? A person diagnosed with cancer is generally referred to a doctor who specializes in cancer. Such a doctor is known as an "oncologist" (on-col-o-gist).
  • How much time you have before it is advisable to take the next medical step? Generally decisions do not have to be made immediately. Knowing how much time you have provides a time frame for finding the best specialist for you.
  • What would speed up the time table so you know if something happens that you have to move more quickly?
  • If your symptoms get worse, or you experience new symptoms, what would indicate that you should call the doctor or go to an Emergency Room?
  • How to decrease or eliminate symptoms you are experiencing? 

NOTE: You don't have to live with pain, or other difficult side effects of your condition, drugs or treatment. There are remedies available. Talk with your doctor.

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