Questions to Ask

When you first meet with your oncologist and healthcare team, you will likely receive a lot of information. Because this can be overwhelming at such a sensitive time, we recommend you prepare questions before your visit to ask your physician. In fact, you may find it helpful to prepare questions in advance of each doctor’s visit throughout the course of your treatment. 

Don’t be afraid to ask anything that is on your mind. Your questions and concerns will likely change throughout your treatment, and each person’s situation is different. You may want to consider inviting a friend or loved one to join you to take notes and record the doctor’s responses and recommendations. 

If you aren’t quite sure what to ask, the following are some questions recommended by the National Cancer Institute

About Initial Diagnosis

  • What type of cancer do I have?
  • Can you explain my test results to me? Will I need more tests before treatment begins?
  • What stage is my cancer? Has my cancer spread to other areas of my body?
  • What is my chance of recovery?

Regarding Your Treatment

  • What are the ways to treat my type and stage of cancer?
  • What are the benefits and risks of this treatment?
  • When will I start treatment?
  • How is the treatment given?
  • How long will treatment take?
  • Will I need to be in the hospital? If so, how long?
  • How will we know if this treatment is working?
  • Is surgery an option?
  • How will I control pain?

About Side Effects

  • What are possible side effects of my treatment?
  • What side effects can I expect between treatment sessions?
  • Are there any side effects that I should call you about right away?
  • How can I prevent or treat side effects?

About Advanced Recurring Cancer

  • What does “advanced cancer” mean for me?
  • How long can I expect to live with advanced cancer?
  • What are my treatment choices? Which do you recommend?
  • What happens if I decide not to have treatment?
  • How can I manage the symptoms of my cancer or side effects?
  • When should I consider hospice care?

When You Finish Treatment

  • How long will it take for me to get better and feel more like myself?
  • What kind of care should I expect after treatment?
  • What long-term health issues can I expect as a result of my cancer?
  • What is the chance my cancer will return?
  • What symptoms should I tell you about?
  • What tests do I need after treatment is over? How often will I have the tests?