Start by seeing your primary care doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. Tell your doctor if you've been treated for cancer in the past, even if you received cancer treatment many years ago. If you're diagnosed with bone metastasis, you'll be referred to a cancer specialist (oncologist).
Because appointments can be brief, it's a good idea to be well-prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- 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. Note how long you've been experiencing your symptoms and what makes the symptoms worse or better.
- 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 of the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For bone metastasis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- What's my prognosis?
- Are there any experimental treatments or clinical trials available to me?
- I have these other health conditions. How will those affect my treatment?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask any additional questions that occur to you 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 time later to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
April 10, 2015
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous, or do they come and go?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- Does anything make your symptoms worse?
- Walsh D, et al. Palliative Medicine. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2009. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 16, 2014.
- Yu HM, et al. Overview of the epidemiology, clinical presentation, diagnosis, and management of adult patients with bone metastasis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 2, 2015.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookid=331. Accessed Jan. 2, 2015.
- Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 16, 2014.
- Metastatic cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Sites-Types/metastatic. Accessed Jan. 2, 2015.
- Rosenthal D, et al. Critical review of the state of the art in interventional oncology: Benign and metastatic disease involving bone. Radiology. 2012;262:765.
- Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 11, 2015.
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