The phone rings. Or your doctor’s office calls and want you to come in right away. Or perhaps someone you know tells you what they’ve just learned.
All of a sudden, you or someone you know or love has cancer. You need to know more. But where to go?
Check out the National Cancer Institute’s PDQ Information Summaries. It provides timely, thorough but very clear summaries of important information for patients and families, and for health professionals, too.
Just click on the type of cancer involved; the alphabetical list ranges from acute lymphoblastic leukemia to vulvar cancer. If you click on the “patient” version, you get what they call a “treatment summary.” It is a clear and yet fairly comprehensive description of key points, description of the cancer, anatomical drawings, causes, signs and symptoms, tests, factors affecting the prognosis or likely outcomes, stages of the disease, and ways to determine whether the cancer has metastasized, or spread.
If you click on the “health professional” link (which I suggest you also do), you’ll get a more technical and detailed version of the patient information, with links to the research supporting the information.
The website provides information for both pediatric and adult cancers, and also has sections on supportive and palliative care, cancer screening and prevention, and cancer genetics. There are fact sheets, dictionaries, blogs and newsletters. Everything is at no cost to the user.
If you have an interest in the latest research and have a bit of a technical bent, you might also want to check out “Cancer Currents,” a National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer research blog.
If you want to know more about cancer treatment, there is a section that discusses types of treatment, side effects, clinical trials, cancer drugs, and complementary and alternative medicine options.
And, there’s an excellent list of questions to ask your doctor. It’s so complete, I’d recommend you print it out and bring it with you to your next visit.