Receiving the notice that your chest scan came back a little abnormal is worrying to say the least. Your pulmonologist will probably want you to return for another appointment to speak with you about the results and perhaps order further tests.
While this can be very off-putting, it is also the right moment to ask any questions you have about your symptoms and your concerns. By arming yourself with the best possible arsenal to obtain information, you will be better equipped to handle any diagnosis. Here are some questions to ask your doctor during your visit.
Can you explain the test that was run? Each test is used to diagnose different conditions, and learning about the test(s) that were conducted will help you to better understand what your doctor was looking for and how and/or why your chest scan was abnormal.
What makes my scan “abnormal”? This may seem like something you don’t even need to ask, but it’s important to know exactly what your scan is showing, why it varies from the norm, and to what degree it’s considered abnormal.
What can the abnormality mean? Be ready to ask your pulmonary physician about the possible diagnosis of your abnormal chest scan. It is likely that your pulmonary physician isn’t sure what the abnormality means without further testing, but knowing everything it could point at will prepare you for the final diagnosis.
Will I need further testing? If so, what tests can I expect and how do they work? Usually, if an initial chest scan shows an abnormality your pulmonary physician will assign you further testing to determine whether the abnormality is malignant or benign. These tests can vary, and knowing what they are and how they work will help you get through them with more confidence.
How often should I be screened for changes? This is an important question to ask regarding the maintenance for your pulmonary health. Even a positive diagnosis on abnormalities should be followed up on in case it starts to become malignant later down the line.
Are you prescribing me anything for the symptoms? It’s important to understand any medications you will be prescribed as well as any side effects of the medication.
Are there things I can do to manage my condition? Ask what types of habits and activities you can do on your own time to keep your pulmonary health under control or even lessen some of your symptoms.
Should I follow any dietary/lifestyle restrictions? Be sure to ask and understand if there are any restrictions or changes you should make to your current regimen. Some doctors may choose to wait on further tests and simply test you again in a few months to see if your abnormality has changed or grown. In the meantime, they may recommend some lifestyle changes or impose restrictions on your diet and/or activity.
What should I do if my symptoms increase? Ask your doctor when to contact them if symptoms worsen to avoid an unnecessary trip to the ER.
Preparing for your first appointment after being notified of an abnormal chest scan can be very nerve-wracking and tense. By asking the right questions and educating yourself on your diagnosis, you will be better able to maintain your pulmonary health and suppress your symptoms. Be sure to write down these questions and bring them with you so you don’t forget to ask anything!