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Your First Visit

Here's some help on how to prepare for your first visit – what to bring and what will happen during the visit.

What to bring

Please bring the following items with you:

  • your personal healthcare card 
  • all your medications, so that the doctor may review them with you 
  • the names and telephone numbers (work and home) of two personal contact people 
  • your health history and any allergies that you may have 
  • any x-rays that you may have been given 
  • any questions you may have (we suggest writing these down) 
  • a friend or family member

New patients form

As a new patient, you might have been asked to complete a Patient Reported Information and Symptom Management (PRISM) form

If you have been asked to complete this form, we encourage you to print the form and complete it before you come to your first appointment, and to bring it to your appointment. 

What happens

What happens at your first visit

Visit length

During your first visit, you will be in the centre for at least two or three hours.

Bring a friend or family member

You may find it helpful to bring someone with you for company and support as this first visit can be overwhelming. Having a family member or close friend accompanying you at your appointment could help you to gather all of the new information.


If you require an interpreter at an appointment, let our admitting team know and they will make arrangements, if possible, for a professional interpreter. 


Because of the length of your appointment, we suggest you have a meal before coming (unless otherwise instructed) and/or bring a snack with you. 

Checking in

Report to the Information and Admitting desk in the lobby of the main entrance. A clerk will assist you and may ask you to complete some documentation in a waiting area. If you were not pre-registered by phone, a clerk will help you complete your registration. If you require assistance, a volunteer will be available to escort you to your first appointment. This is also when you receive your BC Cancer number. 

Medical consultation

You will be seen by oncology nurses and physicians in the Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU). You may also be assisted by volunteers who are there to help and support you.

Your medical history will be discussed and a physical examination will be carried out. When the examination is finished an oncologist (a cancer specialist) will review this information along with your reports and records. The oncologist will then sit down with you to talk about treatment choices and the plan for your ongoing care.


The oncologist may arrange for blood tests, X-rays, and/or scans. You may have to wait for the results of these tests before the best treatment can be designed for you. The role of the oncologist is to advise you about your cancer.

Managing pain & symptoms

If you have pain or other symptoms, your oncologist may help you and your family doctor manage these, or may refer you to the pain and symptom management team, or other specialists.

Asking questions

Asking questions and taking notes, or having a loved one assist you in this manner, is a great way to stay involved in your treatment plan. Being informed and prepared may help to make the process less overwhelming. 

At the end your visit

At the end of your visit you may be given your next appointment to return to the centre or it may be mailed to you. 

Sometimes, no further appointment is required and you may be referred to your family physician.

Your questions

Your questions

How does BC Cancer relate to my family doctor?

Your family doctor will be receiving reports and information about what is happening at the cancer centre or clinic. He or she will remain your primary physician and you should continue to see him or her for other health issues as you have before. 

Your family doctor can also be very helpful in managing issues that arise during and after your treatment and provide care for you closer to home when possible.

Will I see my oncologist in the same room at every visit?

You may see your oncologist in a different room at each appointment, therefore it is necessary to check in at each appointment.

Can I see my oncologist without an appointment?

Unfortunately, we do not have a walk-in clinic. All appointments need to be pre-booked. Please contact your centre or clinic if you have questions or concerns or see your family doctor.

What if I need to change or confirm an appointment?

To change or confirm an appointment please call your centre or clinic.

What does a blank space mean on my appointment card?

If there is a blank space or a line on your card without a time, this means you will be notified by telephone with the time before your appointment or treatment.

Why is there a wait between my lab (blood draw) and my oncologist appointment?

If you have lab work done outside of BC Cancer it may take several days for your oncologist to receive the results.

If you have lab work done at BC Cancer it can take 1.5 to 2.5 hours for your oncologist to receive the results.

How can I arrange to refill my prescription?

First call the Pharmacy where your prescription was filled. 

If refills are not available, please call your oncologist’s secretary.

Can I smoke at the centre?

BC Cancer and grounds are strictly a “non-smoking” environment.

Can I use a cell phone at the centre?

You may use your cell phone outside of the buildings or in the waiting areas with the exception of those areas with signage indicating cell phones may not be used.

Out of respect for the patients we ask that you keep your cell phone on vibrate when in a centre or clinic.

Can I wear scent?

BC Cancer is a scent-free environment. In consideration of other patients and staff who have scent related allergies kindly refrain from wearing perfume, scented hairspray, cologne, scented deodorant, aftershave or other scented products. Thank you for your cooperation.

Can I bring my pet?

Kindly do not bring pets into a centre or clinic. Only guide dogs and dogs pre-approved under our “pet therapy” program are permitted.

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