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What You Need to Know

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What have the doctors said? Diagnosis

What is a diagnosis?

A diagnosis is a name given to your condition for example:

  • Lung cancer
  • Cancer of the breast, colon, rectum, or pancreas
  • Heart failure
  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Stroke
  • Chronic liver, lung or kidney diseases
  • Other chronic disabilities or terminal diseases

The diagnosis may include a severity code, for cancer this includes the "stage"

  • Stage 1 (limited)
  • Stage 2 & 3 (spread to the lymph nodes)
  • Stage 4 (spread throughout the body)

For heart failure, this may include the New York Heart Association classification:

  • Stage 1 - mild
  • Stage 2 & 3 - moderate
  • Stage 4 - severe

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What have the doctors said? Prognosis

What is a prognosis?

Prognosis refers to how serious the doctor believes the situation is.

Prognosis is usually given in terms of how long you have to live: years, months or weeks.

Doctors are not very good at prognosis:

  • The science of predicting the future is weak.
  • Doctors don't like to deliver bad news.

Statistics are complicated, and don't apply to individuals. They can be confusing.

Here are links to sites that will help you better understand what type pf prognosis may be presented.

National Cancer Institute

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What have the doctors said? Second Opinions

Do you need a second opinion?

Second opinions are not often helpful, but occasionally they can be:

  • If there is a question about the diagnosis or prognosis
  • If there is a question about treatment options
  • If there is a question in the mind of the patient, the family

Often, second opinions are already present. If you have seen a surgeon and then an oncologist, then you probably already have a second opinion. If a pathologist is involved, this can already be a second or third opinion.

If you desire a second opinion, your doctor should be willing to arrange this for you. If not, ask the doctor "why not?"

In today's world of specialists and subspecialists, your primary doctor should help you put together information which may come from on or more specialists.

Your primary doctor helps you navigate conflicting second opinions.

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What Has Been Said or Heard

What has been said and what has been heard?

How much does the patient and family/loved ones/friends want to know now? At this time?

Need more information? You could schedule a conference with your primary doctor or your primary specialist.

The ROYL Family Conference

Review Current Status of the situation

  • What has been said
  • What has been heard

Medical Review

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Making Sure Everyone Understands

What did the patient and family/friends hear?

What is said is not always what is heard!

Not every patient wants to be told everything all at once. This is a true challenge for the doctor, to give the patient what she/he wants to know at a given moment in time.

Statistics are complicated, and don't apply to individuals. They can be confusing.

Is everyone on the same sheet of music? Patient-family-loved ones-health care team?

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