Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Coping with a tumor or cancer diagnosis and learning about the various treatment options can be a stressful experience. To assist you in this process, below is a list of questions you may want to ask your physician as you consider certain treatments.
Questions to ask before treatment
- What type, stage and grade of tumor do I have?
- What is the purpose of surgery/chemotherapy/radiation treatment for my type of tumor?
- What are the risks and benefits of treatment?
- Will I need chemotherapy, surgery or other treatments? If so, in what order will I receive these treatments?
- Why do I need this treatment?
- How will the treatment be given, and what will it feel like?
- For how many weeks will I receive chemotherapy/radiation? How many treatments will I receive per week?
- Am I healthy enough to undergo treatment?
- What are the chances that treatment will work?
- Can I participate in a clinical trial? If so, what is the trial testing? What are my benefits and risks?
- What is the chance that the cancer will spread or come back if I do not receive surgery/chemotherapy/radiation treatment?
- How should I prepare for this financially?
- What are the available support groups during treatment?
- If I have questions after I leave here, who can I call?
- Will radiation therapy or chemotherapy affect my ability to have children?
- Do you accept my insurance?
- How many times have you done this procedure?
- What is the cost of this treatment?
- Which clinicians will coordinate my care?
Questions to ask during treatment
- Can I drive myself to and from the treatment facility?
- Will I be able to continue my normal activities?
- What side effects may occur from the surgery/chemotherapy/radiation and how are they managed?
- How can I expect to feel during radiation or chemotherapy treatments, and in the weeks following therapy?
- Do I need a special diet during or after my treatment?
- Can I exercise?
- Can I have sex?
- Can I smoke or drink alcohol?
- Will side effects change my appearance? If so, will the changes be permanent or temporary? If temporary, how long will they last?
- Is it safe to take vitamins during treatment?
- Will certain medications interact with others I am already taking?
Questions to ask after treatment ends
- How and when will you know if I am in remission from cancer?
- What are the chances that the cancer will come back?
- How soon can I go back to my regular activities? (e.g., work, sexual activity, aerobic exercise, etc.)
- How often do I need to return for checkups? Will I need more labs or images?
Questions to ask about prognosis
- What is the goal of treatment? Is it directly treating the cancer or improving my symptoms, or both?
- What is my life expectancy? (If this is information you want to know, ask for a window and the most likely scenario.)
- How will I feel?
- What is my likelihood of a cure?
- If I cannot be cured, will I live longer with treatment? How much longer?
- Will I feel better or worse?
- Can I receive palliative care focused on the quality of my and my family’s life during my cancer treatment?
- What options do I have if I don’t want to continue my cancer treatment?
- When should I think about hospice?
- How often should we check in about my care plan?
Questions to ask about advance care planning
- Are there things I should be doing to plan ahead?
- Draft a will?
- Participate in advance care planning and decide on my advance directives?
- Choose a healthcare proxy who can speak for me, if I am unable?
- Address financial or family legal issues?
- Appoint a durable power of attorney for financial affairs?
- Write notes or create DVDs for loved ones?
Questions to ask about family, psychosocial and spiritual needs
- Will you help me talk with my children?
- Who is available to help me cope with this situation?