What to Bring With to Health Care Visits for Cancer

When visiting a physician to discuss cancer diagnosis and treatment, little is more frustrating than finding that he or she does not have any of the medical records. Delay of diagnosis, delay of treatment, and the cost of repeating lost lab tests occurs far too often. Even when records are present initially, patients often race around town gathering information before getting a second opinion. Items to carry with to avoid this frustration include:

Copies of Medical Records

These should include all records leading up to diagnosis and beyond. Ask for records at each visit, and if they are not yet available ask that they be mailed to you. Keep all records in a single file that is readily accessible. Ask for a copy of your last complete physical to include as well.

Blood Tests

When you see any physician, ask to receive copies of any laboratory tests that are done - even if you have the same type of tests repeated frequently.  Doctors will want to look at not only the numbers, but the change in these numbers over time.

Radiological Studies

Ask to receive report on any radiological studies you have done, including chest x-rays, bone scans, CT scans, MRI's, and PET scans.  When you see a new doctor they will want not just the written report, but a copy of the scan which they can review themselves.

 They may give you a CD of the films you can carry with you, and some centers are able to digitally send scans to the next doctor you will be seeing.

An Up-To-Date List of All Medications

It is best to bring not only a list of your current medications but the actual prescription bottles which you may want to bring in a ziplock bag.

 This should include all prescription medications, non-prescriptions medications (over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol) and any nutritional or herbal supplements you are using.
It is important to note that while many of these supplements are marketed as "natural" they may work in a way that accentuates or inhibits the prescription medications (or chemotherapy) you are being treated with.

Your Family History

Ideally, everyone should complete a family history form to share with his or her physician. While lung cancer does not have a strong genetic predisposition, certain family tendencies could make some therapies more or less desirable.


National Institutes of Health. Talking to Your Doctor. Updated 11/06/14. http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/qa/2002/NLSTstudyGuidePatientsPhysicians

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