The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society suggest the following questions as among those to ask your doctor:
- I've noticed these symptoms: … What medical tests should I take to get an accurate diagnosis? About the tests:
◦ What kinds of tests will I have?
◦ What do you expect to find out from these tests?
◦ When will I know the results?
◦ Do I have to do anything special to prepare for any of the tests?
◦ Do these tests have any side effects or risks?
◦ Will I need more tests later?
After a diagnosis of cancer:
- What kind of cancer do I have?
- What are the cell type, grade and stage of my cancer and what does that mean in my case?
- What is the stage of my disease? Has the cancer spread from the ovaries? If so, to where?
- What are my treatment choices? Do you recommend chemotherapy for me? Why?
- Would a clinical trial be appropriate for me?
- Will I need more than one kind of treatment?
- What are the expected benefits of each kind of treatment?
- What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment? What can we do to control side effects? Will they go away after treatment ends?
- Will I lose my hair? If so, what can I do about it?
- What can I do to prepare for treatment?
- Will I need to stay in the hospital? If so, for how long?
- What is the treatment likely to cost? Will my insurance cover the cost?
- How will treatment affect my normal activities?
- Will treatment cause me to go through an early menopause?
- Will I be able to get pregnant and have children after treatment?
- How often should I have checkups after treatment?
- What are the chances my cancer will come back with the treatment we have discussed?
- Should I follow a special diet?
- What is my expected prognosis, based on my cancer as you view it?
- What do I tell my children, husband, parents and other family members?
- What kind of surgery do you recommend for me? Will lymph nodes and other tissues be removed? Why?
- How soon will I know the results from the pathology report? Who will explain them to me?
- How will I feel after surgery?
- If I have pain, how will it be controlled?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- Will I have any long-term effects because of this surgery?
- Will the surgery affect my sex life?
- When will treatment start? When will it end? How often will I have treatment?
- Which drug or drugs will I have?
- How do the drugs work?
- Do you recommend both IV and IP (intraperitoneal) chemotherapy for me? Why?
- What are the expected benefits of the treatment?
- What are the risks of the treatment? What side effects might I have?
- Can I prevent or treat any of these side effects? How?
- How much will it cost? Will my health insurance pay for all of the treatment?
Before using complementary medicine:
- What benefits can I expect from this approach?
- What are its risks?
- Do the expected benefits outweigh the risks?
- What side effects should I watch for?
- Will the approach change the way my cancer treatment works? Could this be harmful?
- Is this approach under study in a clinical trial?
- How much will it cost? Will my health insurance pay for this approach?
- Can you refer me to a complementary medicine practitioner?
This article reprinted with permission from Second Opinion, a public television health program hosted by Dr. Peter Salgo and produced by WXXI (Rochester, N.Y.), West 175 and the University of Rochester Medical Center.
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