© 2005-2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.
Talking often with the doctor is important to make informed decisions about your health care. These suggested questions are a starting point to help you learn more about your cancer care and treatment. You are also encouraged to ask additional questions that are important to you.
- Where exactly is the cancer located?
- What are my treatment options based on my diagnosis?
- What clinical trials are open to me?
- What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
- Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?
- Who will be coordinating my overall treatment and follow-up care?
- What are the risks and possible side effects of treatment, both in the short term and the long term?
- How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?
- Could this treatment affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long?
- Could this treatment affect my ability to become pregnant or have children? If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?
- If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my cancer care, who can help me with these concerns?
- What support services are available to me? To my family?
- Whom do I call for questions or problems?
- Does my diagnosis mean that my relatives have a higher risk of colorectal cancer? Should they talk with their doctors about screening?
- What do you know about my cancer at this point?
- What other tests will be run before surgery?
- Can you describe the surgery I will be having?
- What are you planning to remove during surgery (the colon, rectum, lymph nodes)?
- Is a biopsy part of the surgery?
- How soon after surgery will I have all test results and a firm diagnosis?
- Do you think I may need a temporary or permanent colostomy?
- Is this the standard type of surgery for my condition?
- How many times have you performed this type of operation successfully?
- Who will give me information about how I should get ready for surgery and a hospital stay? How long will I be in the hospital?
- How will my pain be controlled after surgery?
- What other side effects are possible with this type of surgery?
For rectal cancer
- Should I have radiation therapy and chemotherapy before my rectal cancer surgery?
- What is my diagnosis based on the results of surgery and biopsy reports, in TNM format?
- Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?
- Did the pathologist test my tumor for a possible genetic cause? Do I need more genetic counseling or testing?
- What is my prognosis?
- What additional treatment do you recommend? Why?
- What is the goal of each treatment?
- Is it a standard treatment or part of a clinical trial?
- How long will it be before I can go back to work after surgery? Can I work during chemotherapy?
- What follow-up tests will I need, and how often will I need them?
Question related to a colostomy (if needed)
- Will you refer me to a specially trained nurse to decide on the best place for my colostomy and help me learn to manage it after the surgery?