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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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?