Getting a cancer diagnosis is difficult. Patients often make decisions that aren’t optimal that they wish they could have changed after a few months. “Knowledge is power” a little research goes a long way for planning ahead. Here are 5 basic and vital things you must do:
1. Double-check the diagnosis.
A definitive cancer diagnosis is usually done through a surgical biopsy. A pathologist will review the biopsy and report on the presence of cancer cells. The first thing you should do is send the sample to a different lab/pathologist for a second opinion, to prevent an incorrect diagnosis.
2. Use Google to learn about your cancer type and stage.
Read the pathology report or ask your doctor for the specific cancer type (for example: non-small cell lung cancer) and stage (for example Stage IV). Use Google to find the survival outcome data for your cancer type and stage.
3. Read the guidelines or a summary.
Most of the common cancer types (lung, breast, colon, prostate, etc.) in India will have a detailed treatment guide in international guidelines. You should review different leading international guidelines including NCCN, ASCO and ESMO to see how they recommend treatment for your cancer type.
a. Many treatment options aren’t available in India. You can find out which options are available in India through the website maintained by the government. Importing medications may be an option to explore.
4. Find out what testing is recommended by guidelines* and undergo those tests.
When reading the guidelines, make not of all testing they recommend. For example, at the time of this writing, the NCCN guidelines recommend 9 genes to be tested for non-small cell lung cancer patients. Typically only 2-3 genes are tested in India. Ask your doctor for all available testing in order to procure the most accurate information to guide your treatment.
5. Cancer treatment can be costly. Plan your treatment carefully to avoid financial hardship.
Plan your finances intelligently: make a list of the treatments you will probably require, including chemotherapy and targeted therapy. Finding out the cost of treatment is the usually the largest expense. Creating a treatment plan based on your finances can avoid undue burdens and can be used to select which tests to undergo accordingly. If you are insured, check with your insurance company for what is covered.
The steps outlined here are intended to help patients and their families. It goes without saying, this is not a substitute for advise from a medical professional. However, following these simple steps can help families to understand and better plan for the road ahead.
Apart from these logical steps, joining a cancer support group and talking to people with cancer is always helpful. Understand their journey and what they did so you can be prepared.
All PositiveSelect tests include specific genes and more which are recommended by guideline(s):
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Tests by Myriad Genetics which are recommended by guideline(s)
If you have been recently diagnosed with cancer, or have a family history or want to know more about cancer, risk factors, cancer symptoms, detect cancer early, cancer treatments, cancer tests or anything related to cancer, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org