What to Expect at a Medical Oncology Appointment

How to Prepare for a Medical Oncology Appointment | What to Expect after a Medical Oncology Appointment

Most patients are referred to a Pancreas Center medical oncologist after a diagnosis of cancer has already been made. Our goal is to confirm that the diagnosis is correct and ensure the extent of disease has been properly interpreted. This information determines the best course of therapy for each of our patients.

During your consultation, we will review your personal and family medical history and discuss the symptoms or examinations that led to your diagnosis. It will be important to go over your medical records including recent imaging studies, biopsy or pathology slides and reports, and any medical notes from your referring physicians, so please bring these with you. If your medical treatment has been conducted at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, we will be able to access your records through our internal systems. If any portion of your care has been performed at an outside facility, we strongly encourage you to obtain copies of your CT or MRI, reports, and biopsy or pathology slides ahead of time and bring them with you to your consultation. By thoroughly reviewing your information, your oncologist will be able to customize the best treatment regimen for you. Your oncologist may ask that you undergo further testing including blood work or imaging studies to determine your treatment.

It will be important for you to know what medications you are currently taking, at what dosage, and for what conditions. This includes any supplementary vitamins you may be taking on a regular basis. In order to prepare for this conversation, it may be helpful for you to create a vitamin and medication list that includes the dosage of each medication and the condition for which each is prescribed and to bring this list with you to your consultation. Alternatively, bring all of you medicines with you to the visit including vitamins, holistic medications and regular medicines you are taking for the condition.

We understand that you will have questions regarding your treatment options. By the time you leave your appointment, you should have answers to the following questions:

  • What is pancreatic cancer?
  • What is the current standard of treatment?
  • What is the treatment recommendation of the Pancreas Center?
  • Are there any clinical trials for which I am eligible?
  • What have other people chosen to do when faced with a similar treatment decision?
  • What are the treatment schedules and side effects of the recommended treatment plan?

We want to make sure patients and their families walk away satisfied, comfortable, and more informed than they were before their appointment. Rest assured the Pancreas Center oncologists will spend the time needed to achieve this goal.

How to Prepare for a Medical Oncology Appointment

Make sure to bring:

  • Any RADIOLOGY FILMS, CDs or IMAGING STUDIES previously performed
  • A LIST OF MEDICATIONS you are currently taking or the actual medicines.

What to Expect after a Medical Oncology Appointment

You should leave your appointment with a clear understanding of your treatment recommendation. We understand dealing with your diagnosis and beginning treatment can be a difficult process. You may want to obtain other opinions before choosing the treatment regimen your Pancreas Center oncologist suggests. We encourage you to consider your options before moving forward as it is important that you and your loved ones feel fully informed with your treatment regimen and how it will affect you.

When you are ready to begin treatment, you can call your oncologist to schedule your chemotherapy. Your treatment schedule will depend on the kind of chemotherapy you will receive. The entire process of receiving chemotherapy takes 5-6 hours. You will have your blood drawn to confirm your blood counts are within the limits necessary ensure the safety of your treatment. Assuming your blood counts are normal, you will have an IV inserted in your arm through which your chemotherapy medicines will be administered. This process will occur each time you receive your chemotherapy treatment. Always bring a family member or friend with you when you receive chemotherapy who can help you to and from the medical center.

If you choose to undergo chemotherapy at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, your Pancreas Center oncologist will check in with you during your treatment. You can also expect to have more formal follow up appointments with your Pancreas Center oncologist at the beginning of every chemotherapy cycle during your treatment regimen.

For some patients, your doctor will recommend neoadjuvant chemotherapy to try and shrink the tumor in the hopes of making it small enough to remove surgically. During the course of your treatment your oncologist will consult regularly with your surgeon, and the rest of the Pancreas Center team, to evaluate the effectiveness of the neoadjuvant treatment and determine the optimal opportunity for surgery. Once your treatment team decides you are ready for surgery, your oncologist will refer you to a Pancreas Center surgeon. To learn more about the Pancreas Center surgery program, click here.

For more information, call us at (212) 305-9467 or reach us through our online form.