2022 Big C Survivor's Guide - Diagnosis
Questions to ask your oncologist
- What type of cancer do I have?
- Can I have a copy of my histology? Can you explain the report to me?
- Is it an aggressive or indolent type of cancer?
- Where did it start? And has it spread to other parts of my body? How do you check if it has spread? Which scans do I need?
- Is my treatment curative (can it be removed completely) or is it palliative (not curable but can it be controlled or prevented from spreading further)?
- If it’s curative, what is the risk of it coming back?
- What is my prognosis? What is my expected life expectancy with this cancer?
- Do I need genetic counselling to decide if I need genetic testing?
- Which hospital or facility will I be treated at?
- What are my treatment options? What type of treatment will
- I be receiving?
- Do I need different kinds of treatment, like surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or a combination?
- How is my treatment administered?
- Is it via a drip, port, or is it oral?
- Are clinical trials an option for me?
- What is the likelihood that I will respond to treatment?
- What are the side effects of my treatment? What should I be careful to look out for?
- Can I change treatments if I’m not tolerating it or if I have bad side effects?
- How do you monitor the effectiveness of treatment? After how many treatments do we check if it’s working?
- How many treatments do I need?
- How long is each treatment?
- How often do I receive my treatment?
- How do I prepare for the treatment?
- Is there anything I need to bring? Do I eat breakfast when I have treatment?
- Will type of support do I need after each treatment?
- Can I drive myself to each treatment?
- In case of emergency during my treatment, who do I contact?
- Can I continue working/studying
- while on treatment?
- Is there a dietitian, physiotherapist or psychologist that can help me during my treatment?
- Do I need to be hospitalised at any point during treatment?
- Are there any specialised shops for the needs of cancer patients (wigs, head covers, prosthesis)? Does my medical aid cover any of this?
- Is there someone I can talk to who has been through this treatment?
- Are there support groups that can help me and my family during treatment?
For your own peace of mind
- Are you familiar with the type of cancer I have?
- Are there different specialists in your team that deals with my specific type of cancer?
- Can I get a second opinion if needed? Your doctor should be open to you asking different opinions for you to feel comfortable with who is treating you.
- Where is the best place or proper websites where I can access additional information?
- What is the communication policy at your practice? Who do I contact in case of an emergency, or if I need additional information or more time or appointments to discuss my cancer and treatments, or if I have side effects? Do I call, or email, or is there someone I can message if I need help?
- Will I be discussed prior to starting treatment in a multi-disciplinary meeting (MDM) and provided with feedback? Sometimes cancer treatment requires different specialists from oncology disciplines, survivorship doctors and allied healthcare professionals.
- What will the additional costs be throughout my treatment e.g. medication and operation costs?
- Is my medical aid going to cover my treatment? Will there be co-payments for my treatment? How do I find out these cost estimates?
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