Hodgkin Lymphoma First Appointment

Your first appointment at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center is a time for you and your hematologist-oncologist to meet. You might meet your advanced practice provider, too. You will talk about your diagnosis, subtype, disease stage and likely treatment. This visit is also a time for us to start getting to know you as a person. This helps us fit our recommendations to you. Together, you and your care team will decide what needs to happen next.

We encourage you to bring a family member or friend to your first appointment (and any future visits). 

“In the first appointment, we focus on the big picture. We communicate what your diagnosis is, what it means and whether any additional information is needed. We discuss next steps, which could include things that need to be done before starting treatment, as well as the logistics of the treatment itself.”
— Ryan C. Lynch, MD, hematologist-oncologist

Ready to schedule an appointment?

What to Expect

First appointments usually last one to two hours. You will spend about one hour with your physician. The rest of your visit may involve checking in, being escorted to an exam room and getting settled in there, meeting other members of your team and setting up your next appointments. Here is what you can expect to happen.  


Confirming Your Diagnosis

Before coming to Fred Hutch, you likely have already had a biopsy that shows you have Hodgkin lymphoma and know the subtype of your disease. Knowing your subtype is important because it helps your physician decide which treatments will likely work best for you and when your treatment should start.

Our hematopathologists may run more tests on your tissue sample to confirm your diagnosis or to narrow down your subtype. At your first appointment, your physicians will have your results and go over them with you.

doctor reviewing record

Staging Your Disease

Most newly diagnosed patients have not yet had tests to stage their disease. Staging means finding out how far lymphoma has spread in your lymph system or to other parts of your body. Hodgkin lymphomas range from stage I to stage IV, with I being the least advanced and IV being the most advanced.

If you have had these tests and you already know the stage of your cancer, we will look at the test results before your appointment. If you have not had these tests, we will talk with you about which tests you need, why, how to get them and when you can expect results. The tests usually happen within 10 to 14 days.

doctor writing prescription

Discussing Your Treatment

The treatment we recommend for you depends on several things, including the subtype and stage of your Hodgkin lymphoma. If you have had a biopsy and we know your subtype, your physician will explain generally which treatments you are likely to need. After we have the results of your staging tests, we will meet with you again to talk about your personalized treatment in more detail.

These appointments are also a time for you to tell us about yourself. Each patient and family has their own needs and preferences. We want to get to know you so we understand the best way to care for you.

doctor reviewing notes with patient

Answering Your Questions

Starting with your first appointment (and after), we are here to answer your questions. We want to help you understand as much as you want to know about your disease, your treatment and how care happens at Fred Hutch. We invite you to bring a friend or family member with you to help keep track of your questions and the information that your team gives you. We also encourage you to talk with your care team about your hopes and concerns. Knowing more about you helps your team recommend the right treatment for you.

Before you leave, we will make sure you know what is going to happen next and how you can reach us if you have questions later. We will also schedule your next visit.

Resources for Patients and Caregivers

Here are tips about how to prepare for your first appointment at Fred Hutch and what to bring.

Caregiving at the First Appointment

As a caregiver, you can give your loved one both emotional and practical support for their first appointment. Ask them if you can help with things like these:

  • Helping them manage their stress, worry or other feelings.
  • Planning how to get to and from the appointment, what time to leave home and where to park.
  • Making a list of questions they want to ask the physician. Fred Hutch’s Guide to Your Care has a list of questions they may want to ask the care team. At the appointment, make sure that all their questions get answered.
  • Taking notes during the visit. The physician will be giving a lot of details, which can be hard to remember later without notes.