If you have any signs or symptoms that worry you, start by making an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner. If your doctor determines you may have chronic lymphocytic leukemia, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in diseases of the blood and bone marrow (hematologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, 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, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
- 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.
- Take 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 recall 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 chronic lymphocytic leukemia, some basic questions include:
- What do my test results mean?
- Do I need treatment right away?
- If I don't begin treatment right now, will that limit my treatment options in the future?
- Should I undergo additional tests?
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the side effects associated with each treatment?
- Is there one treatment that's strongly recommended for someone with my diagnosis?
- How will treatment affect my daily life?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any 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 questions as they 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 to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
Apr. 26, 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?
- Lichtman MA, et al. Williams Hematology. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=69. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Abeloff MD, et al. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-4/0/1709/0.html. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. http://www.lls.org/#/resourcecenter/freeeducationmaterials/leukemia/cll. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/CLL/patient. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- When cancer doesn't go away. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorshipduringandaftertreatment/when-cancer-doesnt-go-away. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Cancer-related fatigue. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Shanafelt TD, et al. Phase 2 trial of daily, oral polyphenon E in patients with asymptomatic, Rai stage 0 to II chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Cancer. 2013;119:363.
- Green tea. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed March 7, 2013.
- Shanafelt TD, et al. Hematologist/oncologist disease-specific expertise and survival: Lessons from chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL). Cancer. 2012;118:1827.
- Shanafelt TD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 2, 2013.
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