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Keeping Track Of Your Cancer Treatment

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Why should breast cancer patients keep a medical diary?

Patients with breast cancer pay frequent visits to the doctor and hospital for tests, treatment and consultation. Over a period of weeks and months they will receive large amounts of information on their condition and, if this isn’t recorded properly, can lead to some confusion. Your doctor will always keep a copy of your medical records but it’s also a good idea to keep track of your cancer treatment yourself to help you remember the important details. These might include things like which medication you are on, or a record of the side-effects that you feel from certain drugs.

Doesn’t my doctor keep all of my records?

Absolutely. Your doctor will keep detailed records of every meeting, prescription, test and treatment that you have. If you want a copy you can request it. What your doctor can’t do is provide a day-to-day account of how you feel, and how different drugs and treatments affect your mood, and quality of life. Keeping an up-to-date diary can help your doctor adjust medication and may often improve the quality of healthcare provision you receive. Doctors are busy people, and are not immune to making mistakes. If you both keep records the likelihood of an error slipping through the net diminishes. It’s important to have a thorough understanding of breast cancer – this will help you when you meet with your doctor and also if you need to explain your illness to family members or friends.

Why is it important to take somebody with me to consultations?

It’s not uncommon for patients diagnosed with breast cancer to struggle to understand what their doctors tell them. When they hear they have cancer they start thinking of a million things – maybe worrying about telling their family or the possibility of losing their job – and they don’t fully listen to what their doctor tells them. It’s only when they get home from the doctor’s that they realise that they didn’t ask all of the questions they should have.

Taking a family member or friend with you to a consultation with the doctor can help relieve the pressure of remembering everything that the doctor says. The person accompanying you can also help remind you of important questions or issues to raise at the meeting. Trying to listen to the doctor and make records by yourself isn’t easy, especially if the information is difficult to understand. Having one person writing down the important points can be really helpful.


10073 Published April 2012

Review Scheduled April 2013


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