Appointment advice

Usually, you will go to the doctor for your appointment, although sometimes they may come out to your home if your child is very poorly.

Preparing for your appointment

The appointment will probably be fairly short, and it can help to prepare for this so that you can provide the doctor with the relevant information. Below are some tips that may be helpful:

  • You may like to write a list or some notes about the things you'd like to mention to the doctor, in order to help you remember.
  • Try to think back to when you or your child first noticed changes or symptoms and if they have changed or worsened.
  • If your child attends nursery or pre-school, ask their teacher if they have noticed symptoms or changes.
  • You may find it helpful to keep a diary of your child's ill health, and to take this with you to any medical appointment. This may help you and the health professional to detect trends or changes in your child's health.
  • Depending on the age of your child, talk to them about the symptoms that you or they have noticed, and ask them how they feel.
  • It can be a good idea to explain to your child that you are going to take them to the doctor and what to expect.
  • If your child has symptoms intermittently, you could consider photographing or videoing these symptoms when they occur to show to the doctor.

Parents usually know their child well, and can identify changes in their health, appearance and behaviour; if you are concerned about any changes, mention them to your doctor.

During your appointment

  • If you have prepared some notes or a diary, or brought a photo or video to help you explain, show it to the doctor and talk them through it.
  • Consider asking the doctor 'Could this be a brain tumour?' and showing the doctor this website or other HeadSmart materials.
  • The doctor may want to examine your child or assess them.

The outcome of the appointment will usually be one of three options:

  • Reassurance that the child does not have a brain tumour, either where they have a different condition causing their symptoms or where there is judged to be little cause for concern. The doctor should explain his reasons for this reassurance. The doctor may refer your child to a specialist if he or she thinks your child may have a different condition that needs investigating.
  • Referral for a brain scan (or to a doctor who will arrange a scan) if the doctor believes that the symptoms may be caused by a brain tumour; he or she may refer you for other tests for other possible causes as well.
  • If the doctor believes a brain tumour is unlikely but cannot be ruled out, he or she may ask you to return for another appointment after a certain time period (usually no longer than 4 weeks) or if there is a worsening in the symptoms. If the symptoms persist or worsen, further consideration may be needed as to the cause.

At the end of the appointment make sure that you know what's next, for example:

  • if you are expecting to be contacted, then when and by whom;
  • if you need to make another appointment, when should this be;
  • if you are being referred for a scan, what will this involve.

After your appointment

  • Follow the next steps discussed with the doctor. If you don't hear from your doctor or specialist within the timeframe you have expected to, contact them to follow this up.
  • Continue to keep a watchful eye on your child's health, and if there are changes, keep track of them.
  • If you have been reassured that your child does not have a brain tumour but continue to be concerned, make another appointment; perhaps consider seeing a different GP to get their advice.

Please remember that any child needing urgent medical help should be taken to the nearest emergency department. In an emergency dial 999 and ask for an ambulance.

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