A cancer diagnosis usually leads to a mountain of questions. We strive to reduce your anxiety and bring peace of mind by offering immediate answers to more common questions regarding our office procedures and treatment methods. If your questions are not answered here, or you would like to discuss your concerns, you can always call our offices to speak to our staff or your doctor directly.

How do I prepare for my first visit?

We want your first visit to our office to be as smooth as possible. As we value your time and your comfort, there are a few things you can do to make your experience easier. To save time at your first visit, please bring the following:

  • New patient registration forms – print out and complete the registration forms in the New Patient section.
  • Picture identification
  • Insurance information
  • List of all medications and supplements you are currently taking
  • Films –  you should bring any films, such as x-rays or scans, that have been taken, as well as any results from previous testing.
  • Referral from your primary care physician – if your insurance requires a referral for you to see a specialist, please get the referral before your scheduled visit.

We encourage you to ask a friend or a family member to accompany you to your appointment. Having a loved one to offer emotional support or remember details can be invaluable in the healing process.

What will I have to pay at my appointment time?

Your insurance will be billed, but you will be responsible for any deductible or co-payment due at your appointment. For your convenience we accept Visa and MasterCard.

Will I still need to see my primary care physician?

We recommend that you continue to see your primary care physician.

Do I need a referral or a diagnosis?

You don’t need a referral or a cancer diagnosis to schedule a visit. Although cancer is usually first suspected or detected by primary care physicians, our doctors can make a diagnosis if you suspect you may have cancer or would like a second opinion.

Please remember that some insurance companies require that you have a referral from your primary care (or other) physician before seeing a specialist. If your insurance company requires this, please make sure that your other doctor has provided a referral before scheduling your first appointment.

Will I need testing?

Before any treatment starts, we usually perform tests to assess your health and to make sure you can cope with any side effects. The tests will depend on the type of cancer you have. In most cases, a blood test is used to check the health of your liver and kidneys, since these organs break down the chemotherapy drugs.

You may need a scan to provide a reference point to check your progress during treatment. Different scans include x-rays, CT scans and MRI scans. Tests could also be carried out during treatment to monitor your progress.

What should I wear to treatment?

We suggest wearing comfortable loose clothing. We also recommend bringing a sweater, as sometimes the office can be chilly.

When will my treatment start?

Treatment usually begins in 1 week after the initial consultation and/or testing.

How often do I come in for treatment?

Treatment schedules for chemotherapy vary widely. How often and how long you get chemotherapy depends on your type of cancer and how advanced it is, the goals of treatment, the type of chemotherapy, and how your body reacts to chemotherapy.  You may receive chemotherapy in cycles, which is a period of chemotherapy treatment followed by a period of rest.

How long is each treatment?

It really depends on the individual treatment plan prescribed by your doctor. It can be as short as thirty minutes or as long as three to four hours or possibly more. During your initial consultation your doctor can give you a more specific time frame.

Can I continue my normal activities after treatment?

We strive to provide our patients with a treatment plan that allows them to maintain as normal a routine as possible. You may experience some side effects such as fatigue or nausea that will reduce your desire to do certain activities, but you can continue to engage in your normal activities if you feel up to it.

Can I be around people after my treatments?

Because most chemotherapy drugs make you less able to fight infection, it’s very important that you stay away from anyone who is sick. The best way to prevent infection is by washing your hands often, especially before touching your face, nose, mouth, or eyes. Ask your family and friends to do the same when they are with you.

If you have had radiation treatments, you are not radioactive and will not harm others by being around them.

Can I drive myself to and from my treatments?

The side effects of chemotherapy may prevent you from being able to drive after your treatment. Common side effects are fatigue, nausea and vomiting which may reduce your desire to drive and affect your concentration as well. It is a good idea to have someone drive you home from your first session to see how the medications affect you.  You can also consider taking a taxi or contacting your local American Cancer Society chapter to learn about their patient transportation services.

Should I bring someone with me?

We encourage you to bring a family member or a friend with you. Having a loved one to offer emotional support or remember details can be invaluable in the healing process.

Where should I get my prescriptions filled?

You can take your prescriptions to any pharmacy approved by your managed care plan or provider.

What if I need a refill on my medications?

The best time to take care of prescription refills is during your office visit. At this time your doctor can discuss your medications and make changes if necessary. If you need a refill between office visits, you should call your pharmacy with this request. The pharmacist will then contact us for a refill approval.

What if I have an emergency?

You will have your doctor’s cell phone number and can call or text at any time. It is important that you contact your doctor or our office if you have a fever over 101 degrees.

Will I lose my hair?

It really depends on the type of chemotherapy drug you are receiving and how large the dosage. Your doctor will be able to tell you what to expect before your treatment begins. Most of the time, any hair loss will be only temporary and your hair will start growing back anywhere from 3 to 10 months after your treatment ends.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Normal cells grow and die in a controlled way. When cancer occurs, cells in the body that are not normal keep dividing and forming more cells without control. Chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells by stopping them from growing or multiplying. Healthy cells can also be harmed, especially those that divide quickly. Harm to healthy cells is what causes side effects. These cells usually repair themselves after chemotherapy. Because some drugs work better together than alone, two or more drugs are often given at the same time. This is called combination chemotherapy.

For more detailed information, please refer to our guide on the side effects of chemotherapy.

Can I miss a dose of chemotherapy?

For chemotherapy drugs to work their best, it isn’t a good idea to skip a treatment.  Sometimes your doctor may change your chemotherapy schedule to alleviate a side effect you are experiencing. If this happens, your doctor will explain things to you and let you know when it is safe to start treatment again.

How will I feel during chemotherapy?

Each person and treatment is different, so it is not always possible to tell exactly how you will react. Most people receiving chemotherapy find that they tire easily, but many feel well enough to continue to lead active lives. Your general state of health, the type and extent of cancer you have, and the kind of drugs you are receiving can all affect how well you feel.

For more detailed information, please refer to our guide on the side effects of chemotherapy.

Can I work during chemotherapy?

Many people can work during chemotherapy, as long as they match their schedule to how they feel. Whether or not you can work may depend on what kind of work you do. If your job allows, you may want to see if you can work part-time or work from home on days you do not feel well. Talk with your employer about ways to adjust your work during chemotherapy.

What are clinical trials and are they an option for me?

Cancer clinical trials (also called cancer treatment studies or research studies) test new treatments for people with cancer. These can be studies of new types of chemotherapy, other types of treatment, or new ways to combine treatments. The goal of all these clinical trials is to find better ways to help people with cancer.

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