Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Whom to see
If you have signs and symptoms of myelodysplastic syndrome, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. If your doctor suspects you have a myelodysplastic syndrome, you may be referred you to a doctor who specializes in blood disorders (hematologist).
How to prepare
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, be prepared. To prepare, try to:
- 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 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.
Questions to ask
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 myelodysplastic syndromes, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do I have a myelodysplastic syndrome?
- What type of myelodysplastic syndrome do I have?
- Will I need more tests?
- What is my prognosis?
- What is my risk of leukemia?
- Will I need treatment for my myelodysplastic syndrome?
- What are my treatment options?
- Can any treatments cure my myelodysplastic syndrome?
- What are the potential side effects of each treatment?
- Is there one treatment you feel is best for me?
- 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?
- Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- What will determine whether I should plan for a follow-up visit?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions that occur to you 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 points you want to address. 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?
- Myelodysplastic syndromes. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Oct. 7, 2011.
- Myelodysplastic syndromes treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/myelodysplastic/Patient/AllPages. Accessed Oct. 7, 2011.
- Vardiman JW, et al. The 2008 revision of the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of myeloid neoplasms and acute leukemia: Rationale and important changes. Blood. 2009;114:937.
- Foran JM, et al. Myelodysplastic syndromes. In: Abeloff MD, et al. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone; 2008:2235.
- DeAngelo DJ, et al. Myelodysplastic syndromes: Biology and treatment. 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 Oct. 7, 2011.