As you cope with cancer and cancer treatment, we encourage you to have honest, open talks with your doctor. Feel free to ask any question, no matter how insignificant it might seem. Here are some standard questions that you might want to ask but be sure to add your own questions as you think of them. Nurses, social workers, and other members of the treatment team may also be able to answer many of your questions.
Would you please write down the exact type of cancer I have?
How does this affect my treatment options and outlook?
May I have a copy of my pathology report?
Has the cancer spread to my lymph nodes or other organs?
What is the stage of the cancer? What does that mean in my case?
Are there other tests that need to be done before we can decide on treatment?
What treatment choices do I have? What do you recommend? Why?
Should I think about genetic testing?
Should I look into taking part in a clinical trial?
What are the risks or side effects of different treatments?
What can I do to get ready for treatment?
How well can I expect breast reconstruction surgery to work if I need or want it?
What are the pros and cons of having it done right away or waiting until later?
What will my breasts look and feel like after treatment?
Will I have normal feeling in my breasts after treatment?
Will I lose my hair? If so, what can I do about it?
What are the chances of the cancer coming back with the treatment you suggest? What would we do if that happens?
Should I follow a special diet or make other lifestyle changes?
Will I go through menopause as a result of treatment?
Will I be able to have children after treatment?
What are my chances of survival, based on my cancer as you see it?
What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
Be sure to write down any questions you have that are not on this list. For instance, you might want to ask about recovery times so that you can plan your work schedule. Or you may want to ask about second opinions. Taking another person and/or a tape recorder with you to doctor visits can be helpful. Keeping copies of your medical records, pathology reports, and radiology reports may be useful in case you wish to get a second opinion later.