What questions should you ask your oncologist?

What questions should you ask your oncologist?

The saying “knowledge is power” is especially true when it comes to a cancer diagnosis. Studies have proven that patients with cancer typically have better outcomes and fewer side effects if they are well-informed about their specific condition and treatment options. So how can cancer patients best get the information they need?

If you've recently received a cancer diagnosis, your best source of information is your oncologist. If you’re meeting with your oncologist for the first time, you may have a lot of questions. Here’s a handy guide you can use to prepare for your discussion.

Come to your appointment prepared with your medical history. It’s best to write it down, since it can be easy to forget small, potentially important details, including what tests you’ve taken, what specialists you’ve seen and what symptoms you’ve experienced. Also, make sure your physician has access to all of your previous medical records.

Bring your medications. Prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, supplements and more fall under this category. Bringing in the physical medications allows the physician to note dosages and prevent any potential negative interactions.

Bring a friend or family member. It’s important to have someone by your side who can take notes for you, remind you of important questions and listen objectively.

A big part of preparing for your appointment is planning to ask the right questions. Here’s a list of helpful questions to get you started.

  • Exactly what kind of cancer do I have?
  • What is the stage of my cancer, and what does it mean?
  • What is my prognosis?
  • What is your experience at treating my kind of cancer?
  • How common is this disease?
  • Is this type of cancer genetic? Are my family members at risk? Should I consider genetic testing?
  • What are my treatment options? What is the goal of my treatment?
  • What are the benefits of the treatment you’re recommending?
  • What are the potential risks and side effects of this treatment?
  • How will we manage the side effects?
  • How can I prepare for this treatment?
  • How will this treatment help me? Will it "cure" my cancer?
  • What kinds of tests and procedures will I need to go through
  • How will I be receiving test and treatment results?
  • Will my insurance cover all this?
  • How will I know if the treatment is working?
  • Can you explain clinical trials and if I am a good candidate? 
  • What effect will treatment have on my daily life? Can I continue to work while undergoing treatment?
  • Do you have someone I can meet with to discuss lifestyle changes that can help me get through my treatment?
  • Where can I find more information about the type of cancer I have?
  • Should I be worried about getting pregnant or fathering children during treatment?
  • Do you have support groups or counselors for my family and I to meet with to deal with my diagnosis and treatment?
  • Who can I contact from your office if I have health questions?
  • Who can I contact from your office with finance or insurance-related questions?

Learn more about how we treat cancer at Goshen Center for Cancer Care. 

Posted: 1/15/2016 by Goshen Health
Filed under: cancer, Cancer Care, oncologist, questions, treatment

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