Preparing for your appointment

See your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. If you're diagnosed with a brain tumor, you may be referred to specialists, such as:

  • Doctors who specialize in brain disorders (neurologists)
  • Doctors who treat cancer (oncologists)
  • Doctors who use radiation to treat cancer (radiation oncologists)
  • Doctors who specialize in nervous system cancers (neuro-oncologists)
  • Surgeons who operate on the brain and nervous system (neurosurgeons)
  • Rehabilitation specialists

It's a good idea to be well-prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready, and 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.
  • 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.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

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 a brain tumor, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What type of brain tumor do I have?
  • Where is my brain tumor located?
  • How large is my brain tumor?
  • How aggressive is my brain tumor?
  • Is my brain tumor cancerous?
  • Will I need additional tests?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Can any treatments cure my brain tumor?
  • What are the benefits and risks of each treatment?
  • Is there one treatment you feel is best for me?
  • Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
  • 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 other questions that occur to you.

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:

  • 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?
Nov. 22, 2014
References
  1. What you need to know about brain tumors. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/brain. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  2. Adult brain tumors treatment (PDQ): Health professional version. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/adultbrain/healthprofessional. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  3. Daroff RB, et al. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  4. Childhood brain and spinal cord tumors treatment overview (PDQ): Health professional version. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/childbrain/healthprofessional. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  5. Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  6. Armstrong TS, et al. Use of complementary and alternative medical therapy by patients with primary brain tumors. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. 2008;8:264.
  7. Avastin (prescribing information). South San Francisco, Calif.: Genentech Inc.; 2013. http://www.avastin.com/patient/index.html. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  8. Afinitor (prescribing information). East Hanover, N.J.: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.; 2014. http://www.afinitor.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  9. Temodar (prescribing information). Whitehouse Station, N.J.: Merck & Co. Inc.; 2013. http://www.temodar.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  10. Taking time: Support for people with cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime. Accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
  11. Brain SPOREs. National Cancer Institute. http://trp.cancer.gov/spores/brain.htm. Accessed Oct. 9, 2013.
  12. Golden AK. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 2, 2013.

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