Ep. 135 – The 3 things you need for a complete oncology patient history

Decorative image of podcast graphic: Ep. 135 - The 3 things you need for an oncology patient history

Back with a new episode, but I’m still fundraising for Camp Watchme: Even if you contribute $1, you are helping more children experience the life-changing empowerment of learning to manage their lymphedema & meet friends just like them. To donate, click here – thank you!!!!!

In PT school, I remember practicing my history-taking skills for HOURS. I was so concerned I was going to miss something, so I interviewed classmates again & again until I felt confident. Well, that confidence went out the window once I started treating patients with cancer.

It’s like when my brain heard “cancer,” it just turned off. So I had to basically relearn how to take a history with these patients.

The good news? The basics are the same. But like with the rest of oncology, the devil is in the details. So in today’s episode, we’re covering the three parts of an oncology patient history you MUST have for every single patient.

1. Cancer history

  • What type of cancer?
  • When was the cancer diagnosed?
  • What stage? What grade?
  • Any recurrences?
  • Any metastases or spread of cancer?

2. Treatment history

  • What cancer treatments?
    • Chemotherapy
    • Radiation
    • Surgery
    • Hormonal Therapies
    • Immunotherapies
    • Targeted Therapies
    • Hematopoietic stem cell transplants/CAR T-cell transplants
    • Others
  • When did the patient have these treatments? For how long? Did they finish each treatment or was a treatment(s) stopped early? WHY?
  • Any maintenance therapies or continued treatments?

Check out this video on Chemocare.com & how I use it for pretty much every patient visit:

3. Side effects/impairment history

  • What side effects or impairments did the person experience before treatment?
  • What side effects or impairments did the person experience during treatment?
  • What side effects or impairments did the person experience after treatment?
    • If none, screen them anyways. Chances are, you’ll find some.
    • Start with the basics: fatigue, weakness, balance/falls, neuropathy, lymphedema/swelling, etc.
  • It’s critical here to screen for potential impairments, especially late-emerging effects (such as anthracycline-related cardiomyopathy, etc.)
    • Need help here? Check out this article by Maltser, Cristian, Silver, Morris, & Stout, 2017 for more on side effects & safety in oncology rehab.

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