Start by making an appointment with your family doctor, general practitioner or a gynecologist if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. If your primary care doctor suspects you have ovarian cancer, you may be referred to a specialist in female reproductive cancers (gynecologic oncologist). A gynecologic oncologist is an obstetrician and gynecologist (OB-GYN) who has additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian and other gynecologic cancers.
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 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 ovarian cancer, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What type of ovarian cancer do I have?
- What types of treatments are available, and what kinds of side effects can I expect?
- What do you feel is the best course of action?
- What is my prognosis?
- If I still want to have children, what options are available to me?
- Will I have to stop working?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- 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 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 reserve time to go over points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
Nov. 10, 2012
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- Does anything appear to worsen your symptoms?
- Do you have any relatives with ovarian or breast cancer? Are there other cancers in your family history?
- Lentz GM, et al. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/linkTo?type=bookPage&isbn=978-0-323-06986-1&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-06986-1..C2009-0-48752-X--TOP. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Ovarian cancer including fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- What you need to know about ovarian cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/ovary. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Hoffman BL, et al. Williams Gynecology. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=768. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.