Vaginal Cancer: Questions to Ask the Health Care Team

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2022

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

Talking often with the health care team is important to make informed decisions about your health care. Suggested questions to ask are below, and the Cancer.Net Blog also offers a list of questions specific to gynecologic cancers. These suggestions are a starting point to help you learn more about your cancer care and treatment. You are encouraged to ask additional questions that are important to you. You may want to print this list and bring it to your next appointment. It may also be helpful to ask a family member or friend to come with you to appointments to help take notes.

Questions to ask after getting a diagnosis

  • What type of vaginal cancer do I have?

  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?

  • What is the stage of my cancer? What does this mean?

  • What are my treatment options?

  • What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?

  • What types of research are being done for vaginal cancer in clinical trials? Do clinical trials offer additional treatment options for me?

  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?

  • Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?

Questions to ask about choosing a treatment and managing side effects

  • If surgery is recommended, who will be doing the surgery? How experienced is this surgeon with vaginal cancer?

  • Who will be leading my overall treatment?

  • Will I need reconstructive surgery?

  • What are the possible side effects of 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?

  • How will this treatment affect my sex life, 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 of cancer care, who can help me?

  • How can I keep myself as healthy as possible during treatment?

  • What support services are available to me? To my family?

  • If I have questions or problems, who should I call?

Questions to ask about having surgery

  • What type of surgery will I have? Will lymph nodes be removed?

  • How long will the operation take?

  • How long will I be in the hospital?

  • Can you describe what my recovery from surgery will be like?

  • Who should I contact about any side effects I experience? And how soon?

  • What are the possible long-term or late effects of having this surgery?

  • What can be done to prevent or relieve the side effects?

Questions to ask about having radiation therapy

  • 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 the radiation therapy?

  • Who should I contact about any side effects I experience? And how soon?

  • What are the possible long-term or late effects of having this treatment?

  • What can be done to prevent or relieve the side effects?

Questions to ask about having chemotherapy

  • What type of chemotherapy is recommended?

  • What is the goal of this treatment?

  • How long will it take to give this treatment?

  • Will I receive this treatment at a hospital or clinic? Or will I take it at home?

  • What side effects can I expect from the chemotherapy?

  • Who should I contact about any side effects I experience? And how soon?

  • What are the possible long-term or late effects?

  • What can be done to prevent or relieve the side effects?

Questions to ask about planning follow-up care

  • What is the chance that the cancer will come back? Should I watch for specific signs or symptoms?

  • What long-term side effects or late effects are possible based on the cancer treatment I received?

  • What follow-up tests will I need, and how often will those tests be needed?

  • How do I get a treatment summary and survivorship care plan to keep in my personal records?

  • When should I return to my primary care doctor for regular medical care?

  • Who will be leading my follow-up care?

  • What survivorship support services are available to me? To my family?

The next section in this guide is Additional Resources. It offers more resources on this website that may be helpful to you. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.