NHL 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 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).

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

To confirm your NHL diagnosis, an experienced Fred Hutch hematopathologist looks carefully at our pathology slides and finds your NHL subtype.

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. For example, some subtypes respond well to certain medicines but not others. Some subtypes are best treated early on; for others, treatment is still important, but it’s less urgent.

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 physician will have your results and go over them with you.

doctor  reviewing record

Staging Your Disease

Many patients who were diagnosed with NHL before coming to Fred Hutch have not had tests to stage their disease (check how far the disease has spread in their body). 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.

doctor writing prescription

Discussing Your Treatment

The treatment we recommend for you depends mainly on your NHL subtype, and stage. 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 to tell us about yourself. Each patient and family have their own needs and preferences. We want to get to know you so we can 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 

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.