Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Make an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. After your diagnosis, your doctor may refer you to a specialist who treats Hodgkin's lymphoma, such as a hematologist, medical oncologist or radiation 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 before testing.
- 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 absorb 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 Hodgkin's lymphoma, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have these 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?
- Will I need a biopsy?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- 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 additional questions.
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:
- 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?
- Has anyone in your family had cancer, including Hodgkin's lymphoma?
- Have you or has anyone in your family had conditions affecting the immune system?
- Have you had infections in the past?
- Have you or your family been exposed to toxins?
- Diehl V, et al. Hodgkin lymphoma: Clinical manifestations, staging and therapy. In: Hoffman R, et al. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06715-0..X5001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06715-0&uniqId=230100505-56. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Hodgkin lymphoma. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- What you need to know about Hodgkin lymphoma. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/hodgkin/AllPages. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- Integrative medicine & complementary and alternative therapies as part of blood cancer care. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. http://www.lls.org/resourcecenter/freeeducationmaterials/treatment/integrativemedandcam. Accessed May 23, 2011.