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Newly Diagnosed? Here's a list of questions to ask your healthcare team.

By: Eileen Coan

New diagnosed? Before your next doctor's appointment, find the right questions to ask your doctor as you begin to prepare for your journey. When you ask the right questions, you should be able to better understand your cancer and your options.

These are examples of questions you may want to ask your medical team:

  • What kind of cancer do I have? Where is it?
  • Do I need any other tests before we decide on treatment?
  • How often do you treat this type of cancer?
  • What treatment do you suggest and why?
  • What's the goal of treatment – to cure or to control my symptoms?
  • What are the possible risks or side effects of treatment?
  • Will I be able to have children after treatment?
  • What are the pros and cons of the treatment you recommend?
  • Are there other treatments I should consider?
  • How often will I need to come in for treatment or tests?
  • How long will treatment last?
  • What if I miss a treatment?
  • What kind of changes will I need to make in my work, family life, sex life, and leisure time?
  • What are the names of the drugs I'll take? What are they for?
  • What other drugs or treatments will I need?
  • How will we know if the treatment is working?
  • Why do I need blood tests, and how often will I need them?
  • If other specialists take part in my care, who will be in charge of my treatment plan?
  • What symptoms or problems should I report right away?
  • If I don't feel sick, does that mean the treatment isn't working?
  • What's my outlook for the future (prognosis), as you see it?
  • What are the chances that the cancer may come back (recur) with the treatment plans we've discussed? What would we do if that happens?
  • What can I do to be ready for treatment?
  • Are there any special foods I should or shouldn't eat?
  • Is it OK to drink alcohol during treatment?
  • How much will treatment cost? Will my insurance pay for it?
  • What's the best time to call you if I have a question?
  • How do I reach you after hours or on weekends and holidays?
  • Should I think about taking part in a clinical trial?

Make sure that all of your concerns and questions, no matter how small, have been answered. It may take more than one visit to discuss all of your concerns, and new questions may come up. It can be hard to remember everything your doctor talks about. Some people find it helps to take notes, bring a family member or friend, record the conversations, and/or bring a list of questions and write down the doctor's answers.

You can also ask the doctor or nurse to write all of this down for you:

  • Your exact diagnosis and stage
  • The names of the drugs you'll be taking and what each is for
  • A list of any problems you should call the doctor about right away
  • The names and contact numbers of specialists you'll be seeing

This is information you'll want to keep. Bring it to each visit and ask them to update the information as things change.