What to do at your first oncology visit
Any cancer diagnosis is traumatic and can cause confusion and anxiety, the team at the Ahmed Kathrada Cancer Institute have put together some guidelines to help you prepare as best as possible for your first oncology visit.
Before your appointment
Bring someone with you – it is always good to have support, it will also help to have someone to make sense of everything that will be discussed.
Draw up a list of your questions, often many concerns are forgotten while trying to absorb all the information from the appointment.
During your appointment
Questions to ask:
- What is the stage of the cancer?
- What is the biology of the cancer?
- Do I need surgery? What kind of surgery is required?
- Do I need chemotherapy?
- Do I need radiation?
- What are the side effects of the treatment?
Signs and Symptoms of Cancer
Diagnosing cancer isn’t always easy – not all cancers show early signs and symptoms and other warning signs appear quite late when the cancer is advanced. However, for a number of cancers, increasing awareness of signs and symptoms and the importance of timely treatment has been shown to improve survival from cancer. This is because finding cancer early almost always makes it easier to treat or even cure. Here are a few of the most common, this is by no means a complete list.
Head and Neck Cancer
- Swelling or sore that does not heal
- Red or white patch in the mouth
- Lump, bump, or mass in the head or neck area, with or without pain
- Persistent sore throat
- Foul mouth odour not explained by hygiene
- Hoarseness or change in voice
- Nasal obstruction or persistent congestion
- Frequent nose bleeds or discharge
- Difficulty breathing
- Double vision
- Numbness or weakness of a body part in head or neck region
- Pain or difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving jaw or tongue
- Jaw pain
- Blood in saliva or phlegm
- Loosening of teeth
- Unexplained weight loss
- Ear pain or infection
- Lump – can you feel a lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit
- Change in size or shape – for example one breast has become larger or lower than the other
- Change to skin texture – perhaps puckering or dimpling of the skin
- Colour change- the breast may appear red or inflamed
- Change in nipples – an inverted nipple for example or nipple discharge
- A rash or crusting – of the nipple or surrounding area
- Burning or pain during urination
- Difficulty urinating or trouble stopping and starting
- More frequent urges to urinate at night
- Loss of bladder control
- Decrease flow or velocity of urine stream
- Blood in urine
- Blood in semen
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Painful erection
- Swelling in legs or pelvic area
- Numbness or pain in legs, hips or feet
- Bone pain that does not go away or leads to fractures