When you’re trying to organize cancer care, two of the most difficult things to keep track of are your medical records and your many healthcare providers. Here’s a guide to help you understand what some common types of providers need to know about your cancer and your treatment, what you should know about your medical records and some tips to help manage it all.
What to Tell Which Doctor
Your Primary Care Physician (PCP)
You should update your PCP on your cancer status and treatment so they can have a keener understanding of your blood work and other general diagnostics. Your PCP also needs to be alert for any signs of cancer-related emergencies, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. He or she can also help diagnose and treat some cancer-related symptoms and manage treatment side effects.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology advises that any specialist treating you for another chronic health condition, such as heart disease or diabetes, needs to be informed about your cancer treatment. There are negative medication interactions to look out for so be sure to inform them of your cancer-related medications. Your chronic condition and cancer treatment can affect each other adversely, so your chronic condition treatment plan may need to be adjusted accordingly.
Your Mental Health Therapist or Counselor
As the National Cancer Institute notes, cancer is associated with psychological stress, and solutions like counseling, medication or group support may be recommended to you. If you’re already seeing a therapist or a counselor, be sure to keep them up to date on your treatments and symptoms, and how they’re affecting your mental and emotional state.
There are a lot of mouth problems associated with cancer treatment, and they can be serious, which is why you should see your dentist a month before you start treatment, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. In fact, your dentist and your oncologist should ideally be in communication. If you are planning to go see your dentist, be sure to have your blood count checked 24 hours beforehand.
Your Massage Therapist, Physical Therapist or Chiropractor
Breastcancer.org emphasizes the importance of keeping these practitioners informed of your surgeries and treatments. Because they are concerned with bodywork, tell them about which of these symptoms you’re seeking treatment for so they can provide the appropriate level of care to help you recover, and not injure you further.
How to Stay on Top of Your Records
When you have an all-encompassing medical condition like cancer — which requires many treatments, procedures, blood tests, screenings, prescriptions and appointments from many medical providers — you will find an online service that compiles your medical records in one place is super helpful as you navigate between appointments. Cancer centers may offer in-house services, like UVA Cancer Center’s MyChart, and they become a strong asset in managing your care.
The truth is, during these appointments, it can be extremely frustrating to try to remember lengthy explanations of your cancer stage, grade and treatment protocol, and there’s often way too much information to write down. That’s when an online record of your entire cancer condition and treatment history becomes so useful. You can access it and read through it at your own pace at any time. You may, for example, want to use it to help determine a hereditary risk of cancer from your parents or as reference when chatting about your condition with your physical therapist.
Whenever you need to share this information (along with your appointments and prescriptions) with other doctors, your caregivers or family members, it’s right there at your fingertips. The American Cancer Society suggests that a better understanding of your cancer diagnosis, prognosis and treatment can help you gain a feeling of control over what’s happening, and it can help you communicate with all of your doctors, as well as other cancer patients in group therapy and even your family.
Struggling to keep everything together? Let MyChart help.Learn More