Small Bowel Cancer: Questions to Ask the Doctor

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 07/2014

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 type of small bowel cancer do I have?
  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?
  • What is the stage of the cancer? What does this mean?
  • How many patients with this type of cancer do you treat a year?
  • 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?
  • Is the treatment you recommend a standard treatment or part of a clinical trial?
  • What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?
  • When would you recommend I begin this treatment? How long will it be given?
  • Who will be a 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 potential side effects, both in the short term and in 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?

Before surgery

  • What do you know about my cancer at this point? What do you expect to know after surgery?
  • What other tests will be done before surgery?
  • Can you describe the surgery I will be having?
  • Is this standard surgery for small bowel cancer?
  • How much of my small intestine will you be removing? Will you also be removing lymph nodes?
  • Is a biopsy part of the surgery?
  • How many times have you performed this type of operation successfully?
  • How soon after surgery will I have all test results?
  • 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 long will recovery take?
  • How will pain be controlled after surgery?
  • Will I need to follow a special diet, with medicines and supplements to aid digestion, after surgery? For how long?

After surgery

  • What is my prognosis based on the results of surgery?
  • Do you recommend additional treatment?
  • How can I keep myself as healthy as possible during and after treatment?
  • What follow-up tests will be needed, and how often will I need them?
  • What support services are available to me? To my family?
  • Whom should I call for questions or problems?
  • Does my diagnosis mean that my close relatives are at higher risk for small bowel cancer? Should they talk with their doctors about screening?

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.