NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults - page 19

NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Version 2013
Part 2: Dealing with the diagnosis
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type of biopsy, you may be given general anesthesia so
you can sleep through the procedure, local anesthesia to
numb the area being sampled, or a sedative that makes
you feel drowsy and relaxed.
Biopsies are generally safe procedures. Some biopsies
may be done in less than 30 minutes while others may
require an hour or more. If your biopsy requires general
anesthesia, you can expect to spend up to four hours in
the recovery room after the surgery is complete, where
a nurse will keep track of your blood pressure, pulse,
and breathing.
Because the sedatives will take several hours to wear off
completely, you will need to have someone there to drive
you home. Depending on the type of biopsy, the incision
site (or sites) could be sore for a while, and you may
have to avoid physical activities such as heavy lifting
while the incisions heal.
Making sense of the diagnosis
Reviewing the test results marks the real beginning of
your cancer journey. Since the information from your
blood tests, imaging studies, and biopsy will determine
the treatment you receive, it is particularly important that
you understand what they mean.
Of course, the shock of hearing that you have cancer
can make it hard to absorb all the technical and scientific
information being thrown at you. Following a few simple
rules can help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.
First and foremost, be sure to
have someone
with you
when meeting with your doctors. Having
another set of ears in the room will help ensure
that you don’t miss important information. You may
also want to consider writing down or recording the
conversation so you can review it later.
Get copies of
blood tests, imaging results,
pathology reports, and information about the specific
type of cancer you have. It will be helpful when
getting a 2nd opinion (more on that later), and will
make it easier to keep track of your progress.
Get organized.
As you go through treatment you
are going to accumulate a lot of paper—insurance
forms, medical records, tests results, etc. If you’ve
never been particularly organized, this is the time to
start. Come up with a plan before you’re drowning
in paperwork, and make sure you have easy access
to crucial information like the names and contact
numbers of everyone on your treatment team and
the details on your insurance coverage. If possible,
enlist a friend or family member to help you put a
system together.
Be prepared.
Cancer doctors are often on very
tight schedules, so you’ll want to make the most
of the time you have with your doctor. Make a list
of the questions you want to have answered or
issues you want to discuss before you go to each
doctor’s appointment. Share the list with your “extra
set of ears” so he or she can help make sure your
questions are answered. Many of your questions will
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