Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
If your family doctor suspects you have soft tissue sarcoma, you'll likely be referred to a cancer doctor (oncologist) who specializes in sarcomas. Soft tissue sarcoma is fairly rare and is best treated by someone who has experience with it, often at an academic or specialized cancer center.
Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to arrive well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Ask a family member or friend to come with you. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided to you 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 a soft tissue sarcoma, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do I have cancer?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need to confirm the diagnosis? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- What type of sarcoma do I have?
- What stage is it?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- Can the cancer be removed?
- What types of side effects can I expect from treatment?
- Are there any alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage these conditions together?
- Are there any dietary or activity restrictions that I need to follow?
- What's my prognosis?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- Should I get additional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy either before or after an operation?
- Is the surgeon you're recommending experienced in this specific type of cancer operation?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may make time to cover other points you want to discuss. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first notice your signs and symptoms?
- Are you experiencing pain?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Do you have any family history of cancer? If so, do you know what type of cancer?
- DeLaney TF. Overview of soft tissue sarcoma. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 21, 2011.
- Sinha S, et al. Diagnosis and management of soft tissue sarcoma. British Medical Journal. 2011;342:157.
- Detailed guide: Sarcoma — Adult soft tissue cancer. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003138-pdf.pdf. Accessed July 21, 2011.
- Soft tissue sarcomas. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00508. Accessed July 21, 2011.
- Lahat G, et al. Sarcoma epidemiology and etiology: Potential environmental and genetic factors. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2008;88:451.
- Kenney RJ, et al. Soft tissue sarcomas: Current management and future directions. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2009;89:235.
- Thornton K. Chemotherapeutic management of soft tissue sarcoma. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2008;88:647.
- Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 31, 2011.