If you have any signs and symptoms that worry you, start by making an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner. If your doctor suspects you may have bone cancer, you may be referred to a specialist. Bone cancer is often treated by a team of specialists that may include:
- Orthopedic surgeons who specialize in operating on cancers that affect the bones (orthopedic oncologists)
- Doctors who specialize in treating cancer with chemotherapy or other systemic medications (oncologists)
- Doctors who use radiation to treat cancer (radiation oncologists)
- Doctors who analyze tissue to diagnose the specific type of cancer (pathologists)
- Rehabilitation specialists who can help you recover after surgery
How to prepare
Appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Try to:
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
Questions to ask
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For bone cancer, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What type of bone cancer do I have?
- What is the stage of my bone cancer?
- What is the grade of my bone cancer?
- Will I need any additional tests?
- What are the treatment options for my bone cancer?
- What are the chances that treatment will cure my bone cancer?
- What are the side effects and risks of each treatment option?
- Will treatment make it impossible for me to have children?
- I have other health conditions. How will cancer treatments affect my other conditions?
- Is there one treatment that you think is best for me?
- What would you recommend to a friend or family member in my situation?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- If I would like a second opinion, can you recommend a specialist?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
Sep. 12, 2013
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Abeloff MD, et al. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 18, 2013.
- Bone cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed July 18, 2013.
- Bone cancer: Questions and answers. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/bone. Accessed July 18, 2013.
- Taking time: Support for people with cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime. Accessed July 18, 2013.
- Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 7, 2013.