Managing Your Care

Treatment for cancer is complex, and managing all of the different aspects of treatment can be stressful. There are different doctors to consult, many tests to schedule, and instructions relating to your care to understand.

The information in this section is designed to help make the time you spend with your doctors more beneficial and productive.

Taking Charge of Your Care

Being a self-advocate involves taking an active role in your cancer care. It can be a positive experience, often giving a sense of control in a time of uncertainty. Self-advocacy doesn't have to be time-consuming or difficult; it can be as simple as asking more questions at a doctor's appointment. Furthermore, being a self-advocate doesn't mean that you alone are responsible for your cancer care. In fact, it commonly involves seeking additional support from others, including friends, family members, and health care professionals.

Choosing a Cancer Treatment Facility

Cancer is a disease that requires specialized treatment, so it is important to find a treatment center that meets your specific needs. This includes finding the right oncologist and finding the right treatment center.

Organizing Your Cancer Care

You may be gathering cancer information, making appointments, getting test results, and learning about treatment options. One way to avoid feeling overwhelmed is to become well-organized.

Tracking Your Medical Bills and Health Insurance Claims

Most people with cancer receive a large number of bills and health insurance claims, creating a cycle of paperwork that can be overwhelming. To reduce your stress and maintain financial health, it is important to develop a clear system for tracking payments and filing important documents.

Keeping a Personal Medical Record

Keeping an accurate record of your personal medical history is an important step in managing your health. This record should include test results, treatment reports, and notes written by your doctor, for each doctor, hospital, or clinic you have visited. Although each facility keeps its own record of your medical care, it is a good idea to maintain and update a personal copy as well.

Medical Forms

Writing down information during visits with your doctor can help you manage what can seem like an overwhelming amount of information. These forms include an extensive medical history form, a form for contact information and insurance information, a form to log test results and appointment notes, and a form to list members of your health-care team.

Mobile Applications

Links to mobile applications for people with cancer, survivors, and caregivers.

Understanding Electronic Medical Records

When you visit a health care provider, important medical information—such as laboratory and imaging test results, prescriptions, and recommended treatments—becomes part of your medical record. Some medical records may be kept in paper form. However, an increasing number of health care providers are using electronic medical records (EMRs).

When Cancer Is Not Your Only Health Concern

While you are coping with the physical, emotional, and social challenges associated with a diagnosis of cancer, it can be easy to ignore other chronic (long-lasting) medical conditions you may have, such as diabetes or heart disease. However, the way you manage these conditions often influences the success of your cancer treatment plan.  

The Importance of Taking Your Medication Correctly

During cancer treatment you may have a number of different medications to take at home, both to treat the cancer and to reduce the side effects of treatment. To make sure you get the most benefit from these medications, it is important to take them exactly as your doctor or pharmacist tells you. 

Safe Storage and Disposal of Cancer Medications

During and after cancer treatment, people may have one or more medications to take at home. These medications include drugs to help relieve side effects, such as pain, as well as drugs to treat the cancer. Because these are powerful medications, they can be extremely harmful if they are taken by someone other than the patient. Therefore, it is important that both patients and their caregivers are aware of the safest ways to store and dispose of the specific medications used during cancer treatment.

ASCO and NCI Patient Information Wallet Card

ASCO and NCI have developed a card that patients can carry in their wallets that will guide them to Cancer.Net and NCI’s Cancer Information Service if they are displaced from their homes due to a disaster situation.