Liver Cancer: Questions to Ask the Doctor

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some questions to ask your doctor or other members of your health care team, to help you better understand your diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

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. You may want to print this list and bring it to your next appointment, or download Cancer.Net’s free mobile app for an e-list and other interactive tools to manage your care.

General questions

  • What is my diagnosis? What is the exact type of liver cancer?
  • What is the size of the tumor?
  • What is the stage of my cancer? What does this mean?
  • Can the tumor be removed surgically? What does this mean?
  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?
  • Am I a carrier of hepatitis B or C? What does this mean?
  • Do I have cirrhosis of the liver? What does this mean?
  • Do I have NAFLD? What does this mean?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What clinical trials are open to me? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?
  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
  • What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?
  • What are the chances for success with the planned treatment?
  • Do I need treatment right away?
  • 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 possible side effects of this treatment, both in the short term and the long term?
  • How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be 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 should I call for questions or problems?

For patients who need surgery

  • How much of my liver will be removed?
  • Will I need a liver transplant?
  • If I need a liver transplant, am I likely to be prioritized on the transplant waiting list? How long should I expect to wait?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital for this surgery? If so, for how long?
  • What are the possible side effects of my surgery, in the short term and the long term?

For patients who need chemotherapy/targeted therapy/immunotherapy

  • What type of therapy will I be receiving?
  • How will it be delivered (through an IV, a catheter, or a pill)?
  • What does the preparation for this treatment involve?
  • What short- and long-term side effects can I expect from this treatment?
  • What can be done to manage these side effects?

For patients who need radiation therapy or other types of treatment

  • What type of treatment is recommended?
  • What is the goal of this treatment?
  • How long will it take to give this treatment?
  • What side effects can I expect from this treatment?
  • What can be done to relieve the side effects?

After treatment

  • What are the chances that the tumor will return?
  • What follow-up tests do I need, and how often do I need them?

The next section offers some more resources that may be helpful to you. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Additional Resources, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.