Questions To Ask

Questions you may want to ask your physician before treatment begins:

  • What kind of cancer do I have?
  • What is the stage of the disease? Has the cancer spread?
  • What is the grade of the tumor?
  • What are my treatment choices? Which do you recommend for me? Why?
  • What are the expected benefits of each kind of treatment?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
  • What is the treatment likely to cost? Is this treatment covered by my insurance plan?
  • How will treatment affect my normal activities?
  • How often will I need checkups?

Questions you may want to ask your physician about surgery:

  • What kind of operation will it be?
  • How will I feel afterward? \
  • What will you do for me if I have pain?
  • How long will I have to stay in the hospital?
  • Will I have any long-term effects?
  • Is watchful waiting a good choice for me?
  • Are new treatments under study?
  • Would a clinical trial be appropriate for me?
  • How can the side effects be managed?
  • Is treatment likely to affect my sex life?
  • Am I likely to have urinary problems?
  • Am I likely to have bowel problems, such as diarrhea or rectal bleeding?
  • When can I get back to my normal activities?

Questions you may want to ask your physician about radiation therapy:

  • Why do I need this therapy?
  • How will the radiation be given?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital? For how long?
  • When will the treatments begin? When will they end?
  • How will I feel during therapy? Are there side effects?
  • What can I do to take care of myself during treatment?
  • How will we know if the radiation is working?
  • Will I be able to continue my normal activities during treatment?

Questions you may want to ask your physician about chemotherapy or biological therapy:

  • Why do I need this treatment?
  • What drug will I get? How will it be given? What will it do?
  • Will I have side effects? What can I do about them?
  • How long will I be on this treatment?

Getting a Second Opinion
Before making a decision, you may want to get a second opinion by asking another physician to review the diagnosis and treatment options. A short delay will not reduce the chance that treatment will be successful. Some health insurance companies require a second opinion; many others will cover a second opinion if the patient requests it. There are a number of ways to find a physician who can give a second opinion:

  • The patient's physician may be able to recommend a specialist or team of specialists to consult.
  • The Cancer Information Service, at 1-800-4-CANCER, has information you may find helpful.
  • The Official ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists lists physicians and specialties and can be found at the Allen County Public Library. The ABMS also has an online service that lists many board-certified physicians.