Questions To Ask Your Cancer Doctors
Questions about the tumor:
What is the exact name of the cancer that I have? (Have the doctor write it down for you.)
Where did the cancer originate from?
Ask the doctor to explain the pathology report
. (Request a copy of the pathology report.)
What is the stage
of the cancer? What does this mean?
Where did the cancer travel to in my body? (If applicable)
What scans will I have to confirm this?
Is there an explanation for why I developed this cancer?
Questions about treatment options:
What are all the treatment options I have for this type of cancer and stage of this cancer?
Is surgery an option?
Is radiation an option?
Is chemotherapy an option?
Is hormonal therapy an option?
Will the treatment be a combination of the above?
What will the treatment accomplish?
Will the treatment cure me from the cancer or will it just prolong my life?
What are the chances that the treatment will work?
And for how long is it likely to work?
What is a realistic goal for this treatment?
Are there other ways to achieve the same goal?
What is my prognosis
with the treatment and what is my prognosis without the treatment?
What tests will be used to determine if the tumor is responding to the treatment?
Radiology studies: PET Scan, CAT Scan, Bone Scan, MRI, Chest X-Ray (CXR)
Blood studies: tumor markers, bone marrow biopsy
Questions to ask when patients are to receive chemotherapy:
What are the names of the drugs?
What are the major side effects of the specific drugs you will use? Will I lose my hair? Will I develop neuropathy?
Will I be able to continue to work?
Will it be given in the hospital or in the clinic or a combination of both?
Will it be daily, weekly, monthly, etc.?
How many additional days will I need to be in the clinic for follow-up?
Will it be given IV (Intravenous) or by a pill?
How do I know if my veins are good enough? Will I need a special chest catheter or chest port to receive this treatment?
Should I continue to take all my regular medicines?
How many treatments will I receive?
How will we monitor whether the treatments are working or not?
At what point will the scans be performed?
What if the scans are worse? What will be planned for next?
What tests will be followed during my treatment?
Blood tests: CBC, chemistry panel, liver function tests, creatinine
Heart tests- MUGA, Echocardiogram
Urine tests- 24 hour urine, dipstick urine
Questions to ask when patients need radiation:
What are the major side effects?
Will I continue to be able to work?
How many total treatments are planned?
How often will the treatments be given? Daily? Twice daily?
Can I come at the same time every day?
Where will I get this treatment?
What are the long term effects of the radiation treatments to this area?
What should I do if my skin starts to get red and blister?
How often will the doctor evaluate me during the treatment?
Will I be taking chemotherapy along with, before or after the radiation treatment?
Questions to ask about side effects:
What possible side effects should I prepare for?
When might they start?
Will they get better or worse as my treatment goes along?
How can I prepare for them or lessen their impact?
Are there treatments that can help relieve the side effects? What are they? Do you usually recommend or prescribe them?
Which risks are most serious?
How can I best monitor myself for complications related to either my disease or my treatment?
Quality of life questions:
Are there any activities that I should avoid during treatments (i.e. swimming, weight lifting, hot tubs)?
Will I be able to continue to work? Exercise? Have sex? Take care of my kids? Drive?
What support groups are available at this practice?
What community groups can you refer me to?
What types of alternative or complementary therapies do you endorse? Which are safe for me to use?
Will this treatment affect my ability to have children?
Questions about the doctor and practice: Where did you do your training?
Do you commonly treat this type of cancer?
Do you have other patients in your practice that I can talk to with the same diagnosis and same treatment plan?
Who is available after-hours for help? How do I access this help?
If I need to be admitted to a hospital, which hospital would that be?
If I am in the hospital, who will be in charge of my care? Would it be you or a general doctor from the hospital?
Do you do hospital rounds on your patients or do you rotate with your partners?
How do you collaborate with my surgeon? Radiation doctor? My family physician?
Clinical trial questions: Is there a clinical trial that is appropriate for me?
Who is funding the clinical trial?
Are you one of the investigators in the clinical trial?
Why do you think the clinical trial is better for me than standard treatment?
Will my insurance cover this treatment? Specifically, does Medicare cover this trial?
What phase clinical trial is this?
What is this clinical trial trying to study?
What is the advantage for me to enroll in this clinical trial?
Do I have to travel for this clinical trial or can it be done here? If so, is there help with travel costs?
Financial care questions:
What services will my insurance cover and what will I owe you?
What will my copayment
(copay) apply to each visit? Will it be every visit that I come or just when I see the doctor?
What is the exact cost of the treatments and what will be covered by insurance? What are the differences in coverage with outpatient versus inpatient coverage?
What are the differences in coverage with oral versus IV drugs? What if I cannot afford this treatment?
What type of payment plan do you have?
What if I can’t pay at all? Do you have an indigent
Do you have a Social Worker
to help me apply for disability programs? Who completes my family-leave paperwork, disability paperwork, etc. Is there a fee to complete these forms?
How soon can I expect them to be completed?