Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Questions to Ask the Doctor

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2011

Asking questions of your doctor, nurses, and other members of the health care team is a good way to learn more about your treatment and follow-up care. It's okay to ask as many questions as you need to and to write down the answers. In fact, doctors and nurses like to know what concerns their patients have and what topics may be confusing. Asking questions helps give you more control over your care and can help you deal with cancer and cancer treatment.

There is a lot for you to learn when you've been diagnosed with cancer. With all of the new information you are receiving, it may be easy to forget the questions you want to ask. Use the sample questions below to help you find out more about your diagnosis and treatment. Some people find that writing down questions before seeing the doctor helps them organize their thinking.

General questions

  • What type of cancer do I have? What does that mean?
  • Where is it located?
  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory rest results) to me?
  • Where can I find more information about this type of cancer?

Symptoms

  • How will this treatment affect how I feel or how I look?
  • How can I avoid these changes?
  • Is there anything I can do to make me feel better?
  • Are there activities I should avoid that may make me feel worse?

Diagnosis

  • Do I need other tests or procedures? When do I need those? How often will I need them?
  • Are there any tests or procedures that may hurt or be uncomfortable? Are there ways to lessen the pain or make me feel more comfortable during the tests?
  • What will these tests tell me about the cancer?

Treatment

  • Would you explain my treatments options?
  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why? Are there other treatment options for this type of cancer?
  • What are the possible side effects of each treatment option, both in the short term and long term and what can we do to make them better?
  • How long will my treatment last?
  • Can you tell me about clinical trials?
  • Where do I need to go to be treated?
  • If I go to the hospital, how long do I have to stay there?
  • How will I feel after treatment? How long will I feel this way?
  • How will this treatment affect me as an adult?

After treatment:

  • When can I go back to school?
  • What should I tell my teachers and classmates about my cancer?
  • When can I return to my regular activities?
  • What happens once treatment is over? Do I need more checkups? Will the cancer treatment affect me when I'm older?
  • What are signs that the cancer is coming back?
  • Whom should I call with questions?

Support and coping

  • Are there other people my age with this type of cancer that I can talk to?
  • How will the cancer affect my family and friends?
  • Whom should I ask for additional support if I need it?
  • Where do I turn if I have additional questions about coping with cancer?
  • What changes should I expect in my body because of the cancer? Are any of these changes permanent? How can I cope with these changes?

More Information

Talking With the Doctors and Nurses

Cancer in Teens

Additional Resources

Group Loop: Visiting the Doctor

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