Before Brain Tumor Diagnosis

signs and symptoms of a brain tumor

If you suspect a brain tumor, here are some tips to help you talk to your doctor during your first appointment:

  • Keep a notebook. A notebook can help you keep track of questions and issues that you’d like to discuss at appointments. If you’re not feeling well enough to write everything down, ask someone to help. You can also use a health tracking app on a smartphone or tablet.
  • Know how to get your questions answered. Find out if there will be enough time to get all of your questions answered in one appointment or if you should schedule an appointment to talk though everything. Also, ask if email is better or should you schedule time with a nurse. Ask these types of questions up-front during your first appointment so you and your doctor can maintain a productive relationship.
  • Bring someone with you to appointments. It is hard to manage all of the information and emotions. A family member or friend can be very helpful as an extra set of ears, to help take notes, and to discuss what you heard or remember things you might forget.
  • Use a schedule-planner to organize help. You can plan for things like a ride to medical appointments, or help with dinner or childcare.
  • Record your appointments with your phone or another audio recorder. This will help you remember what your doctor said and you can share this with your caregivers who may not have been able to attend the appointment with you. As a courtesy, you should let your doctor know you are recording the appointment. It’s unlikely they will have any issues with this, but it’s always nice to know when you’re being recorded.


Ask the following types of questions up-front so you and your doctor can maintain a productive relationship. Your doctor cannot tell you what to do, but they can, and should tell you all of your options.

Questions for my Medical Provider

  • How can I reach you if I have questions after today?
  • Who would you recommend for a second opinion?
  • Does your office or the health system have an online portal that we can use for communication?
  • Should I consider visiting a National Cancer Institute Center of Excellence?
  • What types of tests will be needed for a proper diagnosis? Where will I need to go for those tests?
  • Is there anything else that could be causing these symptoms?
  • When should I call you to make an appointment? What should I be watching for to call for immediate help?
  • Will there be enough time during appointments to talk through your questions? Is email better?
  • Do you need to schedule an extra appointment just to talk through everything?
  • Is it better to schedule a time with the nurse?

Download our Questions to Ask Your Doctor to bring to your appointment.