What Questions Should I Ask My Oncologist?
Anytime that you visit a physician or specialist regarding cancer, it is in your best interest to get as much information as possible. If you think you may have cancer or your doctor suspects that you do, there are some standard questions that you may want to ask your oncologist so that you know what to expect throughout your treatment plan.
Making a diagnosis
Upon speaking with your oncologist, there are some essential clarifying questions that you should ask about your condition. Having these on hand when you go in for your appointment will not only provide you with more information about your health but also help you make sure that your physician didn’t miss any details when confirming your diagnosis.
- Judging from my symptoms, what diagnosis do you think I have?
- What is the cause of this type of cancer?
- How common is this diagnosis?
- What test or series of tests do I need to confirm my diagnosis?
- Will I repeat any of these tests after or while I undergo treatment? How often?
- What can I expect with my diagnosis?
- Have you worked with other patients with this diagnosis? How many?
- Is this cancer curable?
This series of questions should not only make sure that you are clear on why, how, what and where your cancer is, and what to expect in terms of symptoms, side effects and potential outcomes from your treatment. It will also help to make sure that your specialist checks and double-checks their tests to confirm their findings in determining the location and level of severity of your cancer.
After you have checked with your oncologist to confirm their findings, it is natural for patients to know as much about their treatment plan and ongoing care as possible. Your treatment plan is going to be largely dependent on the stage and location of your cancer, as well as how you and your cancer respond to the treatment throughout your care providers plan for you.
The following questions will help you cover scheduling your appointments and will give you a better idea of what to expect throughout the treatment process in terms of side effects, symptoms and outcomes. This will also be the point in the process that your oncologist and care facility work with your insurance to give you a cost estimate for your treatment plan.
- What are the best options or the best plan for treatment?
- What side effects can I expect over the course of my treatment?
- What is the treatment’s success rate considering my diagnosis?
- What does this treatment cost, and will my insurance cover it?
Lifestyle changes and follow-up details
Another one of the concerns that you and many other patients have is how your diagnosis is going to affect the rest of your life. Your condition and your treatment could affect your work, travel or vacation plans, exercise and regular activities of daily living. This can also have a serious impact on your family, coworkers and loved ones.
- Do I need to make any lifestyle or diet changes to improve my quality of life?
- Will I still be able to work?
- Will I still be able to travel?
- What activities should I avoid?
- Is this hereditary? Should my family members get tested?
- What resources do you recommend so that I can read more about my condition?
- What type of follow-up appointments should I expect?
Whatever the case may be, make sure that you speak with your oncologist about how your course of treatment is going to impact normal, every-day tasks. Speak to your oncologist about what activities are safe to perform and what activities you should avoid while you are going through the treatment process. This is also an excellent time to ask them if the type of cancer you have is genetic. If that is the case, your oncologist may want to schedule appointments with them or have advice on preventive strategies.
Whether it be for your first appointment or a follow-up, having a list of questions prepared for your oncologist is the best way to get as much information as possible about your condition and how it is going to impact your life in the far and near future.
Cancer treatment in the Triangle
Personalized Hematology-Oncology provides oncology consultation for all types of cancer. Our expertise includes chemotherapy, molecular targeted therapies and infusion administration while managing the patient’s doses, side effects and response to therapy. Contact us for more information or to make an oncology consultation appointment.