What to Expect at Your First Appointment
At your first appointment, you will meet with an oncologist, a doctor who treats cancer and provides medical care coordination (your quarterback ) for a person diagnosed with cancer. An oncologist can specialize in surgical, medical or radiation therapy. Your initial consultation may be with one of these providers or all of them. Your patient navigator will assist you with determining whom you need to see during the initial scheduling process.
You may find it beneficial to have someone accompany you during your initial visit. Not only can they provide emotional support, but they can also take notes to help you remember important dates and process things after the visit.
It is helpful to bring a list of current medications with you, including prescription medications, over-the-counter pain relievers, vitamins, herbs and supplements. Before recommending a treatment, doctors need to know what you’re taking in order to make sure there are no potential interactions.
Your oncologist will usually have you walk them through your story. This serves two purposes: First, it allows them to confirm the information collected by the patient navigator and fill in any gaps. Second, it gives them an opportunity to get to know you better. As a result of this conversation, they will know more about your hopes and concerns and can work to create a treatment plan that is best for you.
In most cases, a short physical exam is conducted by your oncologist at the initial consultation.
Making A Plan
Also at your first appointment, your oncologist will talk about treatment options. The doctor will explain which treatments are available, how effective they are and what the side effects may be. Then the doctor will recommend a course of treatment and talk about when it should take place. Every treatment has its pros and cons, and your oncologist will make sure you know what those are. You will have ample time to have any questions answered.
Following your first appointment, your case will be reviewed at our melanoma and cutaneous oncology weekly meeting, which is attended by our melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer specialists. There, your case will be discussed, and a consensus plan will be developed for the best possible treatment regimen for you.