Support After Cancer

Keeping Your Personal Health Records

Keeping Your Personal Health Records

When you were going through cancer treatment, frequent visits to your doctor became a big part of your routine. Now that you’re now cancer-free, it’s likely you’ll still need to visit your doctor more frequently than other people who have never experienced a serious illness. And with these visits comes paperwork — some of which you might be wondering about. Let’s take a closer look at the documents that comprise your personal health records, including what you need to keep, why, and for how long. 

Cancer Treatment Survivor Summary: A Cancer Survivor’s Most Important Health Record

A treatment summary is a document your oncologist completed during or soon after your cancer treatment ended. This document should list your exact cancer diagnosis and when you received it, what stage your cancer was, and any other relevant information that came from your pathology report. Additionally, it describes all of the cancer treatment(s) you received.

Essentially, this document should reflect any pertinent information that could affect your health in the future.

Your cancer treatment summary is highly important! 

It should be shared with all doctors you see in the future, especially since most won’t know your medical history. Additionally, it can be a real challenge to track down individual health records after time has passed. Sometimes, it’s impossible. The treatment summary, however, ensures that you have easy access to your pertinent medical records when you need them. 

You may notice the sheet includes a lot of medical terms that can be hard to understand, but that’s OK. What really matters is that it will provide great insight for any future physician who may need to provide care for cancer or for another condition.

Other Important Medical Records to Keep

There are other important medical records to hold onto, which include: 

  • Treatment plans for existing health conditions
  • Immunization records
  • Records detailing other past major illnesses
  • Hospital bills
  • Results from imaging tests 
  • Records of past appointments, including the date and the doctor’s name
  • Current medications and medication histories (including information about allergies or adverse reactions to medications)

Depending on your location, your physician may only be required to keep your records for a limited period of time. And even if your physician still does have your records, you might face challenges such as having to pay a significant fee to retrieve them. 

Keeping Track of Your Health Records

These days, most healthcare providers keep electronic medical records (EMRs) on each of their patients. With that said, there is no guarantee that this method of record keeping is always reliable. Providers are not perfect and they are often incredibly busy. This is why it’s wise to keep track of your own records, too, rather than rely on your providers to do so. 

Keeping track of your records may be easier than you realize, especially if you’re comfortable with tracking them digitally. Many apps are available to help you organize your medical records using your smartphone, personal computer, or tablet. This article mentions 10 apps you can look into for starters. The technology definitely exists. Why not use it?

Of course, it’s always a good idea to have paper copies as a backup. If you haven’t already, request paper copies of all your important health records (especially records related to your cancer treatment). Be sure to store them safely and conveniently so you can have them ready for each time you meet with a new medical provider.