Telling your doctor

If you are experiencing any of the possible signs or symptoms it is important that you tell your doctor.

Often, when people decide to make an appointment with their doctor, lots of different questions and concerns can pass through their mind:

If you’ve notice something unusual about your body, or any of the possible signs and symptoms of cancer, it’s important that you tell your doctor.  Remember that the doctor is there to help you.


The doctor is always too busy.  It’s hard to get an appointment

People sometimes think that it’s hard to make an appointment because their doctor is too busy.  But this is not always the case.  If you need to see your doctor you should always call and try to make an appointment.  Calling early in the morning is often the best time to arrange an appointment.  If your doctor can’t see you on the day you call you can make an appointment for a few days time, or ask to see another doctor in the same practice.

If you feel that you need to talk to a doctor straight away let the receptionist know that it is urgent when you call.  Or ask to speak to the doctor, so you can tell them your concern.  If you can’t get an appointment and are really worried, you could contact your nearest hospital.  However, few symptoms are emergencies so you can usually afford to wait a few days to see your doctor.

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When I get to the doctor’s my mind goes blank

Quite often, we get to the doctor’s and can’t remember everything we wanted to tell them.  So it can be helpful to write down -before you go – why you’ve made the appointment and what you want to let your doctor  know about.

You might find it helpful to keep a symptom diary – a record of what’s been happening, how long it’s been going on for, and how often it occurs.  You could take this with you to the doctor and use it to help you tell them what’s been going on.

When we speak to the doctor we often only tell them about the things that we think are important.  But a doctor needs to know about everything that’s been happening, even if you don’t think the signs and symptoms are related. Writing everything down before you see your doctor, or keeping a symptom diary, can help you be sure you are telling your doctor all that you’ve noticed so the doctor can decide if it is serious or not.

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What could happen when I see the doctor?

What will happen when you see the doctor depends on what the doctor finds.

  • The doctor might be able to reassure you straight away that there’s nothing serious to worry about.
  • The doctor may send you for tests or refer you to the hospital to find out more about what’s going on.
  • The doctor may ask you to come back if things haven’t got better in a couple of weeks or so.  This is because you sometimes need to allow time for things to sort themselves out on their own.  If they don’t clear up, or if they change or get worse, it’s important to go back to the doctor.  The doctor may then refer you on for further tests to find out what’s happening.

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I don’t have a doctor

If you don’t have a doctor, don’t worry.  To find a  doctor in your local area you can:

  • Look in the white or yellow pages, or local directory or phone book
  • Call healthdirect Australia 1800 022 222
  • Contact your local shire or council
  • Contact your local Community Resource Centre
  • Contact your nearest health centre
  • Contact the nearest hospital

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Where else can I get advice?

If you notice anything unusual, there are other people who can give you advice:

  • Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20
  • the practice nurse
  • the nurse practitioner
  • the pharmacist

But remember, always make an appointment with your doctor if your signs and symptoms don’t go away.

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