Start by making an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have sign or symptoms that worry you. If your doctor suspects you may have gallbladder cancer, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating digestive conditions (gastroenterologist), a surgeon who operates on the liver or gallbladder, or a doctor who specializes in treating cancer (oncologist).
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, as well as any 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 will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For gallbladder cancer, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is my stage of gallbladder cancer?
- Can you explain the pathology report to me? Can I have a copy of my pathology report?
- Will I need more tests?
- What are the treatment options for my gallbladder cancer?
- What are the benefits and risks of each option?
- Is there one treatment option you recommend over the others?
- What would you recommend to a loved one in my same situation?
- Should I get a second opinion from a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- 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 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 later to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
Jul. 23, 2011
- 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?
- Gallbladder cancer treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/gallbladder/Patient/AllPages. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Abeloff MD, et al. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:1580.
- Blechacz B, et al. Tumors of the bile ducts, gallbladder and ampulla. In: Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-6189-2..X0001-7--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-6189-2&about=true&uniqId=229935664-2192. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Hepatobiliary cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed May 23, 2011.