The First Visit
  • Get as prepared as you can prior to your visit so that you ask meaningful questions.
  • Write down the questions that you wish to ask and put them in priority order as you may not get to ask all of them in your first visit nor will your doctor have all of the answers during the first visit.
  • Since the visit can be overwhelming and there is a lot of information that is given, it is best to bring a second or third person with you. Two or three sets of ears are better than one. One person should be the dedicated note taker.
  • Bring a tape recorder. Many patients find that taping the conversation is the most efficient way to take notes and they can share the visit with other family members. Physicians generally appreciate this as it reduces the amount of confusion and follow-up questions from patients. There are some programs that even tape the visit for you.
  • If there is a specific article or paper that you think applies to you, read it and bring it with you.
  • Bring your current insurance cards.
  • Bring the names and contact information for all of the other doctors you are seeing.
  • Bring a list of your current medications and allergies.
  • Bring any scans or test results that would be of help to your doctor.
  • Bring a copy of the pathology report and if you don’t have one, request a copy of the pathology report.
  • Request a copy of any pertinent lab reports or scan reports.
  • Request patient literature on your diagnosis or recommended treatment(s).
  • Request a copy of the visit note be sent to your primary doctor and the other doctors involved in your care.
  • Ask the doctor the best way to get follow-up questions answered after you have left the office. (Many will give you their personal information and others will answer calls through their nurse.)
  • To avoid confusion at check-out, before you leave the doctor, have a clear sense of the follow-up plan and when you are to return to see the doctor.
  • Some offices take your photo and keep it in your chart. If they don’t you may want to offer one. A photo will help your doctor and office staff remember who you are.


Tell a Friend about NavigateCancer

The NavigateCancer Foundation is a national, non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to improving cancer care by providing free tools and services to promote self-advocacy for cancer patients and families. Contributions to Navigating Cancer Foundation are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

If you have any questions about donating to us online, please send us an email or call us at 866.391.1121.

To send your gift by U.S. Mail, please make your check payable to NavigateCancer Foundation and mail it to:

NavigateCancer Foundation
5448 Apex Peakway #328
Apex, NC 27502-3924

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NavigateCancer is hope and guidance for cancer patients and their families.