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Questions to ask the Oncologist

October 4, 2017

 

  • What type of cancer do I have?

    • Invasive or in situ (contained within the duct or lobule)

    • Local/regional/distant

    • Positive for estrogen receptor (ER+), progesterone receptor (PR+) or HER2 (positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2)?

    • Or am I considered Triple Negative (breast cancer that does not test positive for any of the above receptors)?

    • Inflammatory (developed from cells that line the milk ducts of the breast and then spread beyond the ducts)?

  • Do you know anything about the type of breast cancer I was diagnosed with?

  • How much experience do you—or other members of the cancer care team—have treating this type of cancer?

  • Does your facility have a cancer panel, where your cancer care team gets together and looks at a case from all sides - pathologist, radiologist, surgeon, and you?

  • Can you better explain and translate my prognostic?

  • What are the risk factors with this cancer?

  • What lifestyle changes would you recommend I make?

  • How can I keep myself as healthy as possible during treatment?

  • Should I do any further testing? Blood? genetic testing? MRI?

  • Do you recommend a genetic counselor? breast surgeon?

  • Would you like to follow me through treatment? If so, how often?

  • What is the stage of my cancer? What does this mean?

  • Has cancer spread to my lymph nodes or any other parts of my body?

  • How is staging used to help decide the best type of cancer treatment?

  • What are my treatment options?

  • Which treatments, or combination of treatments, do you recommend? Why?

  • Are there different options? If so, how is the decision about which one to do made?

  • What about Immunotheraphy?

  • Do you recommend chemo or surgery first? Why?  

  • If I have surgery after, who will put on my port?

  • What clinical trials (research studies involving volunteers) are open to me? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?

  • Who will be part of my cancer care team, and what does each member do?

  • What is the expected timeline for my treatment? Do I need treatment immediately?

  • How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?

  • What are the short- and long-term side effects of this treatment?

  • Will this treatment affect my fertility (ability to become pregnant)?

  • How will you treat side effects that I experience during treatment?

  • I heard about a cold cap against hair loss, is that available at your facility, or do I have to be in a trial for that?

  • If this was your Mother or daughter, is this the treatment you would suggest and what else would you make them do to heal better?

  • What support services are available to me? To my family?

  • May I contact you or the nurse if I have additional questions?

  • Whom should I call with questions or concerns during non-business hours?

  • If I'm worried about managing the costs related to my cancer care, who can help me with these concerns?

  • Who handles health insurance concerns in your office?

  • What follow-up tests will I need, and how often will I need them?

  • Will you be doing tumor markers?

  • Can I meet your chemo nurses?

  • Can I visit the infusion center?

  • Is there anything else I should be asking?

  • Can you explain ALL of the terms in my pathology report and can I have a copy of my report?

  • Are there any other tests I need or should consider at this time? (including genetic testing)

  • What treatment options are you recommending and why? (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal therapy or a combination)

  • Do I need a mastectomy? If so, and I choose to undergo reconstruction would you recommend breast reconstruction immediately following the mastectomy?

  • Will treatment affect my future fertility? What are my options for fertility preservation?

  • Can you refer me to other doctors I might need?

  • What are the potential risks and side effects of the proposed treatments?

  • What is the timing and order of my proposed treatment plan?

  • Can I explore complementary treatments such as acupuncture and massage therapy during treatment? If so, can you recommend a facility?

  • Should I have someone accompany me to treatment and will I need to take time off work?

  • How much time can I take before making a decision about surgery?

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