Cancer Treatment Questions to Ask Your Care Team Before You Begin Treatment.
If you’ve just received a cancer diagnosis, you may be scared, confused, and eager to start treatment. You’ll have plenty of cancer treatment questions, but amid the anxiety and rush, it may be difficult to know, or remember, what it is you want to know, or to focus on the important details.
Being well-informed about your diagnosis, your disease, and your treatment will help you take an active role in your care.
Stacy Gilchrist, RN, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers’ supervisor of navigation, suggests writing down questions before your appointment. This can lower stress and help make sure you cover the most important issues.
Here are a few of Gilchrist’s suggestions for cancer treatment questions to bring up with your physician or nurse practitioner:
- Who are the members of my treatment team?
- What stage is my cancer?
- Which treatments, or combination of treatments, do you recommend? Why?
- What is the aim of each treatment? Is it to cure, control, prevent spreading, prevent recurrence, or relieve symptoms?
- If I take a week or two to make a treatment decision, will that affect the effectiveness of my treatment?
- What impact will this treatment have on my quality of life? Can I work? Exercise?
- What are the possible side-effects of treatment?
- Can the side effects of treatment be controlled or prevented? If so, how?
- What lifestyle changes—such as diet, exercise, and rest—should I make to be healthy before, during, and after treatment?
- Will my immune system be compromised because of treatment? If so, how can I keep myself as healthy as possible during treatment?
- Should I avoid crowds, or close contact with others, particularly small children or pets, during treatment?
- Is it OK to take vitamins and supplements during treatment?
- What if this treatment does not work?
- Are there any clinical trials available that I might be a candidate for?
- Will I need to stay in the hospital for treatment, or can it be done in an outpatient clinic?
- How long is my treatment expected to last?
- Could this treatment affect my ability to have children? If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?
- What support services are available to me? To my family?
- Whom should I call with questions or concerns during non-business hours?
- Can you recommend a social worker to help locate support services?
- If I’m worried about managing the costs of cancer care, who can help me?
- What is the chance that the cancer will come back? What specific signs or symptoms should I watch for?
- What follow-up tests will I need? How often will I need them?
If possible, take a friend or loved one to your appointment. He or she may have additional cancer treatment questions, and they can help you remember your questions and write down your physician’s answers, so you can refer to them later on.