Managing Your Medical Records

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You've mostly likely seen the members of your medical team writing notes in your chart. Your team may include your family doctor, a surgeon, an oncologist, a radiation oncologist, and other specialists. You may have been in the hospital or visited a cancer care facility. Each doctor and each facility you visit keeps a medical chart for you. While some information may overlap, each chart contains a small piece of the total picture of your medical history.

Because your medical history is spread out among your entire medical team, it's a good idea for you to keep your own complete, updated records so you can play an active, informed role in your care. Knowing your medical history allows you to share accurate information with a new doctor, a nutritionist, a complementary medicine practitioner, or a personal trainer. In this way, you ensure that you continue to receive the best care possible.

Keeping your own updated records, including your chemotherapy and radiation therapy regimens and schedules, also allows you to continue breast cancer treatment if a natural disaster strikes. After Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, thousands of people receiving chemotherapy found themselves far away from home with no record of the medicines or schedule they were on and no way to contact their doctors or treatment centers.

If you've been treated for breast cancer, you'll need to collect more detailed and different kinds of information than someone who hasn't. In this section, you can read about the kinds of personal medical information you should gather, how to collect the information, as well as ways to maintain your medical history.

If you've been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, you should keep detailed records of each treatment.  The following pages offer suggestions about the information you should collect and how to organize it:

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