Questions for your Dr.

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QUESTIONS YOU COULD HAVE FOR YOUR DOCTOR

DO I HAVE CANCER?

  • I have noticed a change/abnormality/lump. How can I get it diagnosed as quickly as possible?
  • What is the chance I have cancer?
  • What tests/procedures do you suggest? Which one is best for me and why?
  • How reliable are these tests?
  • How do I prepare for the test?
  • What will the test feel like? Will it hurt?
  • What will this certain test show? Will all abnormalities show up?
  • How long will I have to wait for the results?
  • Who will give me the results?
  • What does it mean if the change if benign (not cancerous)?
  • What does it mean if the change is malignant (cancerous)?
  • If it is cancerous, what happens next?
  • If it is benign and I find another abnormality, what happens then?

AFTER DIAGNOSIS

  • What can be done to treat the cancer?
  • Do I need to decide on my treatment right away or can I think about it and get more information?
  • This is such a big decision. How do I get a second opinion?
  • May I come back later today or in a few days with my spouse, partner or friend to talk to you again?

SURGICAL TREATMENT

  • What are my options for removing the cancer?
  • How long will I be in hospital after my surgery?
  • What will my recovery be like?
  • What will my scar look like?
  • Will I need nursing care after I go home and if yes, what will be available to me?
  • When I get back home, who can I talk to if I need help between clinic visits?

OUTLOOK AFTER SURGERY

  • What tests can be done to find out if the cancer has spread? When will I have them?
  • How big was the tumour? What does that mean?
  • What type of cancer is it? How fast is it growing?
  • At what stage is my cancer?
  • What are the results of my tests?
  • What are my chances of survival?
  • What chance is there that the cancer will show up somewhere else?

PHYSICAL RECOVERY FROM SURGERY

  • What pain/discomfort can I expect? How long will it last?
  • How can I help myself cope?
  • What types of activity (if any) should I avoid?
  • What symptoms might signal medical problems – swelling, fever, nausea, etc.?
  • How long will it take for the incision to heal? What is the best way to take care of my incision?

NON-SURGICAL TREATMENT

  • What is chemotherapy? What is radiation therapy? Will I need them? How will they help me?
  • Will chemotherapy or radiation therapy improve my chances of survival?
  • What are the short-term and long-term effects of these treatments?
  • How soon will I start treatment? If I have surgery, how soon after will I start treatment?
  • What are complementary/alternative therapies? How can I get more information about this kind of therapy?
  • What if I choose not to have treatment?
  • What are clinical trials? How can I find out about them in my area?

RADIATION THERAPY

  • Do I need radiation therapy? Why or why not?
  • Where will I go for treatment?
  • What is radiation therapy like? Will it hurt?
  • How long will each session take? How many sessions will I need?
  • What side effects should I expect? What can I do to reduce the risk of side effects?
  • Will the radiation therapy affect any other organs?
  • What precautions should I take before treatment? (May I eat? Is it okay to use perfume, deodorant or lotion, etc.?)
  • What do I need to know about taking care of my skin during radiation treatment?
  • How long will it take for the area to heal?
  • What is involved in treating the side effects of radiation therapy? How much will this cost me?

CHEMOTHERAPY

  • Do I need chemotherapy? Why or Why not?
  • Where will I go for treatment?
  • How will it be given? How often? Over what period of time?
  • What are my options regarding the drugs I can take? How many drugs will I be taking at one time?
  • What are the side effects? When do they begin? How can they be reduced?
  • Will these drugs cause me to gain or lose weight?
  • Will I lose my hair? If so, how soon? Is a good wig/head covering covered by health insurance?
  • How will I feel after treatment? When should I start to feel better?
  • Will I need help with housework or work commitments during treatment?
  • Should I take a leave of absence from work?
  • What can I do for myself to get the most benefit from my treatment?
  • What is involved in treating the side effects of chemotherapy? How much will this cost me?

EMOTIONAL RECOVERY

  • What kinds of feelings (grief, anger, vulnerability, loss of control) might I have after the surgery and/or treatments?
  • Where can I find emotional help if I need it?
  • How might my family members feel? What behaviour should I expect from them?
  • What support is available for family members?
  • How do I talk to my children about my cancer and my treatment?
  • How does a spouse/partner usually react?
  • What can I do to help us both?
  • How can I talk about the changes in my body with my partner?
  • How can I rekindle my sexuality?
  • Treatment has made me feel less desirable and incomplete. How can I begin to feel whole again?
  • Would complementary therapies such as relaxation therapy, music therapy, meditation or massage help? Where can I find these?

GETTING ON WITH LIFE

  • What might have caused my cancer?
  • Should I change my lifestyle to keep the cancer from coming back (exercise, diet, better stress management)?
  • When will I get back to my normal energy level?
  • For women: Is it safe to take birth control pills after cancer?
  • Does this mean my children have a greater risk of getting cancer?
  • What about my extended family? Are they more likely to develop the disease?
  • What can they do to help reduce their risk and ensure that cancer is detected early?