Make an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. If your doctor suspects you have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in diseases that affect the blood cells (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 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 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do I have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
- What type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma do I have?
- What stage is my non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?
- Is my non-Hodgkin's lymphoma aggressive or slow growing?
- Will I need more tests?
- Will I need treatment?
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the potential side effects of each treatment?
- How will treatment affect my daily life? Can I continue working?
- How long will treatment last?
- Is there one treatment you feel is best for me?
- If you had a friend or loved one in my situation, what advice would you give that person?
- 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?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions as they come up 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 to cover other points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
Jan. 23, 2015
- 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?
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Dec. 10, 2014.
- Hoffman R, et al. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 10, 2014.
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. http://www.lls.org/resourcecenter/freeeducationmaterials/lymphoma/nonhodgkin. Accessed Dec. 10, 2014.
- What you need to know about non-Hodgkin lymphoma. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/wyntk-non-hodgkin-lymphoma. Accessed Dec. 10, 2014.
- Taking time: Support for people with cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/taking-time. Accessed Dec. 10, 2014.
- Lymphoma SPOREs. National Cancer Institute. http://trp.cancer.gov/spores/lymphoma.htm. Accessed Dec. 10, 2014.
- Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 13, 2014.