Getting ready to visit MD Anderson for the first time can take a lot of planning. Here’s a list that will make it easier to prepare for your first appointment.
Use your MyChart account
Learn more about our patient portal and how to find what you need.
Get tips for uploading documents in MyChart, including insurance card, prescription insurance card, medical records and how to upload your photo to your medical record.
Complete pre-appointment forms
Make check-in faster by completing questionnaires before your visit. These forms help your care team prepare for your appointment.
Check insurance coverage
View the list of accepted health insurance plans to determine if you are covered at MD Anderson.
Organize medical records
Your patient access staff member will review the necessary medical documents you need to bring for your first appointment.
Learn about entry screening and patient visitation requirements to keep you safe as a patient or visitor at MD Anderson.
Plan your travel and parking
We can assist with domestic and international travel to and from Houston and help you find a place to stay that is close to one of our campuses.
- Contact Patient Travel Services: 713-745-2300 or toll-free 1-888-848-9992
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your first visit may take several days while tests are completed and a care plan developed. Your length of stay will depend on your treatment plan and you will learn more after you arrive. Visit our Traveling to Houston page to watch a video and learn more about traveling to MD Anderson.
Parking varies depending on where your appointment is located. There are surface lots at most of our locations. Our Texas Medical Center (TMC) campus has garage parking and valet options. Get updated parking information.
Patients and families may need to stay in Houston for 1 to 5 business days. If you are coming from out of town, please keep your travel plans flexible.
What to bring with you
In addition to the medical information your patient access staff has gone over with you, here is a list of other items to consider bringing.
What to expect from your first MD Anderson appointments
Your first appointments at MD Anderson will involve registration and meeting with your care team and doctor.
Registration: You will either have your registration appointment in person or by phone.
For registration phone appointments, you will need access to MyChart before the scheduled registration appointment. Before the call, you will need to upload your photo ID and insurance card to MyChart.
For registration appointments on campus, remember to bring your valid photo ID and your insurance card with you.
During your registration appointment, a patient access staff member will review forms and information with you, including:
- Demographic information
- Consent forms
- Completed questionnaires
- Your insurance benefits
- Patient Rights and Responsibilities document
- Take a photo for your medical record (if you haven’t already uploaded one)
Meeting with your doctor and care team: Your doctor and care team will review your medical history and perform a physical exam. Further testing may be scheduled. Your doctor and care team will discuss next steps with you and your family. Your care team may include:
- Case managers
- Physical and occupational therapists
- Registered dieticians
- Social work counselors
- A patient advocate
First Visit Guide
Review the First Visit Guide to learn what to expect during your first appointment with us, learn about members of the care team and review questions to ask during your first appointments.
New Patient & Family Orientation
Learn more about MD Anderson’s programs and services in the New Patient & Family Orientation class.
Patients, family members and caregivers can view the class online.
Any time you see a new doctor, one of the first things they’ll ask about is your medical history. That’s because everything from the aftermath of childhood diseases to the side effects of current medications can influence which treatments you’re offered for new conditions and how effective they might be.
But what actually makes up your “medical history,” and what are the most critical things to share with your doctor? Are there any areas of particular importance that cancer patients should mention?
We went to Amy Hassan, M.D., chair of General Oncology, for answers. Here are six things she wants every cancer patient to share with their doctors.
1. Chronic health conditions
Some cancer patients may think that if their diabetes or high blood pressure is well-controlled – whether through medication or lifestyle choices – then they don’t even need to bring it up. But that is not the case. Five underlying conditions you should always mention, regardless of their status, are:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart disease
- Kidney or liver disorders
- Autoimmune disorders
“‘Controlled’ does not mean ‘gone,’” notes Hassan. “And chronic health conditions can influence your risk of complications from certain cancer treatments, or even determine whether or not they’re appropriate for you.”
Certain chemotherapy drugs might not be recommended, for instance, if you have an underlying heart condition. And a history of gestational diabetes could be relevant, even if you are not currently pregnant.
“The administration of steroids, which are used often during cancer treatment, can push someone who is already predisposed to developing diabetes over the edge into active disease, or exacerbate a case that was previously under control,” explains Hassan.
Autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can also flare up intermittently, even if they are not currently active.
2. Medications and nutritional supplements
When you share a list of current medications with your doctor, don’t limit yourself to the drugs you’ve been prescribed.
Anything you ingest – including vitamins, minerals, herbs and other dietary supplements – can affect your entire body once they enter your blood stream. Even substances that are absorbed through the skin, such as CBD oil or medicated creams or lotions, may interact with cancer drugs or other therapies, potentially rendering them less effective, ineffective or even harmful.
“A lot of times, people don’t think of non-prescription supplements as being relevant,” says Hassan. “They’re thought of as a safer alternative to more conventional treatments for pain, anxiety and other issues. But it’s important to remember that all of these supplements do have side effects. And, they could potentially interact with other medications and impact your cancer treatment.”
3. Childhood illnesses
It won’t be necessary to rattle off every time you developed strep throat. But if you ever had something out of the ordinary as a child – particularly a significant infection such as pneumonia or tuberculosis – it’s important to mention it.
“Even if it’s no longer active now, it could still be potentially relevant,” notes Hassan. “Having a history of serious infections as a child could be a sign of an impaired immune system. In addition, some infections, such as the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, have been linked to different types of cancer.”
It’s also important to let medical providers know if you didn’t receive the standard, recommended schedule of childhood vaccinations for any reason.
“Cancer treatments can increase the risk of infection in general,” notes Hassan. “But if your immune system is compromised, you may be more susceptible to those diseases, even as an adult.”
4. Current infections
“Be sure to mention these or any other chronic infections you might have, such as AIDS or HIV, to your care team, as they could cause complications during your cancer treatment,” says Hassan.
5. Surgical procedures
Also tell your doctor about any major surgical procedures you’ve had, especially if you experienced serious complications, such as a reaction to anesthesia or excessive bleeding.
Even if you’ve never had surgery, be sure to report any other unusual bleeding you may have experienced.
“A history of heavy menstrual bleeding – or even prolonged bleeding after a dental procedure or giving birth – could be a sign of a bleeding disorder,” notes Hassan. “It’s important to let your care team know about these, so they can make appropriate preparations for any necessary procedures.”
6. Family illnesses
Some diseases run in families. So, if more than one direct ancestor has a particular condition, be sure to share that with your care team.
“Often, someone with colorectal cancer will mention relatives who’ve had that same type of cancer, but not close family members who’ve had other types of cancer,” says Hassan. “Certain hereditary cancer syndromes can increase the risk of multiple types of cancers, so it is important to report any cancers in your family.”
Addiction has also been known to run in families, so if anyone in yours struggles with substance abuse, be sure to mention that, too. Special precautions can be taken by your care team when prescribing painkillers, and alternatives can be suggested to prevent opioid addiction.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.
Learn about MD Anderson's safety precautions and how it affects patients, visitors and employees.
While many people may not know her name, those who have received or provided care at MD Anderson in recent years are likely familiar with Jacqueline Mason’s work.
In her 12 years at MD Anderson, the program director in Internal Communications has been the heart and soul behind communication campaigns to inform and engage employees about internal safety initiatives and regulatory safety inspections.
She uses storytelling to celebrate the creative ways teams come together to improve lives and champion patient safety, quality and performance improvement.
“I studied to be a professional communicator,” Mason explains. “But I did not realize until I joined MD Anderson that I could apply my chosen profession to a cause that I am so passionate about personally.”
Family experience inspires interest in health care safety
Mason ascribes her interest in health care safety to her experience following her maternal grandmother’s stroke.
“It was hard for my family to see our matriarch move between hospitals and long-term care facilities for two years,” she explains. “Through that experience, I recognized that there is a team – an entire system – behind the person who is face-to-face with a patient and their loved ones.”
A passion for MD Anderson
Mason says she is honored to contribute as part of MD Anderson’s team, pointing to its progressive safety culture and strong leadership commitment to safe, innovative cancer care.
“I am motivated to do my best every day to spotlight our safe practices and our safety heroes so they are comfortable engaging our patients and their loved ones in their own safe care.”
Learn about careers at MD Anderson.