You will have an oncology consultation when your general physician refers you to one because you have been diagnosed with cancer. The consultation is a place for you to discuss concerns, a detailed diagnosis and a treatment plan.
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An oncology consultation is performed by an oncologist who is a doctor that specializes in diagnosis and treatment of cancers. The main aim of the consultation is to understand and detail your diagnosis such as correctly diagnose the type of cancer, how far it has spread and decide on possible treatment plans.
The consultation procedure has a few main steps, such as:
Interview: During the interview, your oncologist will discuss your medical history, review any tests you have already had and ask you about medications you have been taking. This is done so that the oncologist can gather all the necessary information to confirm a diagnosis. You can expect to receive a detailed diagnosis or confirmation that you do not have the illness. In the case your diagnosis is confirmed, your oncologist will refer you to other specialists who will perform tests to decide the best course of action for your illness.
Tests: You will have had some tests before the consultation and/or will be asked to undergo some post the consultation such as an MRI or a CT scan (or related imaging tests), tests specific to a particular cancer type (e.g. a mammogram for breast cancer), a biopsy (where a sample of cells from the affected area will put taken and checked under the microscope for abnormalities) or more extensive blood tests.
An appointment at the oncologist is definitely not easy, it is tough for you psychologically and emotionally. Therefore, to make the most of the consultation, take a family member or friend with you so there can be there to support you, and also lend a second set of ears for the advice your oncologist will give you. Make sure to have all the requests/advice written down so it is easier to you to review it later on. Please feel free to voice all your concerns and fears, and ask questions about the treatment plan and fully understand the workings of a particular type of method if you are unsure about it. The success of the consultation depends on the information that is exchanged, full disclosure and honesty.