Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Most people with paraneoplastic syndrome experience neurological problems before there is a diagnosis of cancer or any indication of cancer. So, you're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor about your symptoms. You may then be referred to a specialist in nervous system disorders (neurologist) or a cancer specialist (oncologist).

Questions from your doctor

Depending on the type and severity of symptoms, it may be important for a friend or family member to be at the appointment — to help answer questions and to provide moral support. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Have you experienced any muscle weakness or lack of coordination?
  • Have you experienced any unusual or involuntary muscle movements?
  • Have you had any unusual vision problems?
  • Do you have any problems chewing, swallowing or speaking?
  • Do you have any difficulty breathing?
  • Have you had any seizures? How long have they lasted?
  • Have you experienced dizziness or nausea?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping, or have your sleep patterns changed?
  • Are you having difficulty performing everyday tasks with your hands?
  • Have you experienced any numbness or tingling in your limbs?
  • Have you experienced a significant change in mood?
  • Have you been seeing or hearing things that others are not aware of?
  • Have you had any memory problems?
  • When did the symptoms begin?
  • Have the symptoms worsened since you first noticed them?
  • Have you been diagnosed with cancer?
  • What medications do you take, including over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements? What is the daily dosage of each?
  • Have any close relatives had cancer? If so, what types of cancer?
  • Have you ever smoked?

Questions for your doctor

Questions you may want to ask your doctor include:

  • What diagnostic tests are you going to order?
  • Which specialists will I need to see?
  • What is the likely time frame for completing tests and getting results?
  • How will you communicate results to me?
  • What things are you looking for with the tests?
  • What conditions are you trying to rule out?
Mar. 03, 2011