Start by making an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. If blood tests or other tests and procedures suggest leukemia, your doctor may refer you to a specialist in the treatment of blood and bone marrow diseases and conditions (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 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 take in 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 will help make the most of your time together. List questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For chronic myelogenous leukemia, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Can you explain what my test results mean?
- Do you recommend any other tests or procedures?
- What is the phase of my CML?
- What are my treatment options?
- What side effects are likely with each treatment?
- How will treatment affect my daily life?
- Which treatment options do you think are best for me?
- How likely is it that I'll achieve remission with the treatments you recommend?
- How quickly must I make a decision on my treatment?
- Should I get a second opinion from a CML 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?
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:
Jan. 17, 2014
- 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?
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Jan. 23, 2013.
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/CML/patient. Accessed Jan. 23, 2013.
- 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 Jan. 23, 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 Jan. 23, 2013.
- Integrative medicine and complementary and alternative therapies as part of blood cancer care. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. http://www.lls.org/#/resourcecenter/freeeducationmaterials/treatment/integrativemedandcam. Accessed Jan. 23, 2013.
- When cancer doesn't go away. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/survivorshipduringandaftertreatment/when-cancer-doesnt-go-away. Accessed Jan. 24, 2013.
- About us. Mayo Medical Laboratories. http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/about/index.html. Accessed Jan. 24, 2013.