Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

How to Document Your Medical History

Tips on How to Ensure You Have Your Medical Records When It Counts
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Once you've had cancer, it becomes a major part of your medical history. Make sure to get a copy of your cancer treatment records. That way, you can share the information with any doctors you see, now and in the future.

Should a potentially cancer-related problem develop later on, the medical document can offer doctors valuable clues, says Mary McCabe, RN, MA, director of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's Cancer Survivorship Program. "To know that you had a drug that causes neuropathy or that can be damaging to the heart is extremely important. To know that you had radiation to an area of your shoulder may explain why you have limited range of motion."

Recommended Related to Cancer


Cartilage is a type of tough, flexible connective tissue (see Question 1). Cartilage from cows (bovine cartilage) and sharks has been studied as a treatment for people with cancer and other medical conditions for more than 30 years (see Question 2). Laboratory and animal studies have looked at whether bovine and shark cartilage products can kill cancer cells, make the immune system more active against cancer, and prevent the body from making the new blood vessels that a tumor needs to grow...

Read the Overview article > >

According to the National Cancer Institute, the following information is crucial to include in your medical document.

  • Your specific type of cancer
  • When you were diagnosed
  • Details about all of your cancer treatment, including surgeries; names and doses of all drugs; and sites and total amounts of radiation therapy
  • Places and dates of treatment
  • Contact information for all doctors and other health professionals who treated you or provided follow-up care
  • Key lab reports, pathology reports, and X-ray reports
  • Any problems or complications that happened after treatment
  • Details on supportive care you received, for example, pain or nausea medication, emotional support, or nutritional supplements

Consider sending a copy of your medical records to a trusted relative outside of your area, too. Be sure to send updates on important medical developments so that the file stays current. That way, if you lose your medical records to fire, theft, or natural disaster, you'll have a backup copy.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas