What to Expect at a Psychosocial Oncology Appointment

How to Prepare for a Psychosocial Oncology Appointment | What to Expect After a Psychosocial Oncology Appointment

While many patients consult with our psychiatrist in an outpatient setting, the first time you meet with him or her may be when you are admitted to the hospital for surgery, treatment, or evaluation. Regardless of the setting in which you meet with the psychiatrist, the goal of your initial consultation will be to evaluate the burden of the disease, both physically and mentally, in order to develop the most appropriate coping strategies.

Your consultation will be similar to other doctor visits in many ways. The doctor will gather information regarding your past medical history and discuss any current symptoms you are experiencing. It will be important to review medications you are currently taking, at what dosage, and for which condition. They will also be interested in knowing who prescribed each of your medications and for how long you have been taking each. It may be helpful to write down a list of your medications and bring it with you to your consultation.

After reviewing your history, the doctor will conduct a psychiatrist's equivalent to a physical exam, called a mental status examination. Throughout your conversation, he will directly assess your mood, try to determine if you are suffering from any cognitive deficits or memory loss, and measure your level of disorientation.

In some cases, a trusted family member or friend can be very helpful in assessing how pancreatic cancer and its treatment have been affecting a patient. We encourage patients to bring a family member or friend to their appointment. The insights a patient's loved ones provide can help shape a patient's management plan.

By the end of your consultation, you and the doctor will have determined a management plan. Part of your management plan will include addressing all physical burdens of pancreatic cancer such as pain, nausea, and fatigue. This may involve adjusting your pain medications or referring you to another Pancreas Center specialist for further intervention. Based on your evaluation, additional medication, counseling, or support groups may also be recommended.

A consultation takes about 90 minutes.

How to Prepare for a Psychosocial Oncology Appointment

The best way to prepare for an appointment with the Pancreas Center psychosocial oncologist is for you and your loved ones to pay attention to any changes in your general state of being. Since your diagnosis and treatment for pancreatic cancer have you been feeling more emotional or withdrawn? Have you been having trouble sleeping? If you are experiencing pain, has the medication prescribed helped to alleviate your symptoms? Noting changes in your mood and your outlook on life will help the psychiatrist develop the most appropriate management plan for you.

Since you will be discussing your current medications during your consultation, it may be helpful to create a medication list. Make sure to include the name of the medication, the condition for which it is prescribed, the current dosage, how long you have been taking the medication, and the name of the doctor who prescribed the medication. If you have taken medication in the past for any kind of psychiatric disorder, but have since discontinued its use, please make sure to note that on your list as well.

We encourage patients to bring a close family member or friend to consultations. Their perspectives on how you are coping can help us develop the most appropriate management plan for you.

Make sure to bring:

  • A LIST OF MEDICATIONS you are currently taking
  • A CLOSE FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND who is involved in your care

What to Expect After a Psychosocial Oncology Appointment

You should end your appointment with a clear understanding of the psychiatrist's recommendation for your management plan. This may include adding or adjusting your medications, continued counseling, or further intervention by another Pancreas Center specialist.

If further follow-up and treatment is recommended you may continue psychiatric treatment at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. However, if you are already in treatment elsewhere, or if it is inconvenient to continue treatment at NYP/CUIMC, our psychiatrist will collaborate closely with your existing treatment team or help with a referral.

In some instances, a consultation with the psychiatrist is recommended before, during, or after treatment with other members of the Pancreas Center team like our surgeons or medical oncologists. The entire Pancreas Center team is in constant communication and will be kept abreast of your progress and mental health condition. Your psychosocial management is an important part of your overall pancreatic cancer treatment plan and the Pancreas Center team will collaborate to best promote your health.

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