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Questions to ask when Diagnosed with Cancer

A diagnosis of cancer does not usually come without warning. One may have sought medical advice because there was a new sign, symptom, or a feeling something has changed. By the time a diagnosis is made the patient has probably been through a number of laboratory and radiological tests and there is a normal sense of anxiety regarding the results. Here are a few of the most common questions a patient may have when they are confronted with a diagnosis of cancer.

Who should I talk to about my concerns?

You may go through a transitionary period of disbelief, fear, anger, depression and ultimately, acceptance. These are normal feelings; there are excellent hospital and community based resources available to cancer patients and their families. Counselors, physicians, nurses, specialists, social workers, therapists and other patients are available to help strengthen coping skills and to assist with answering questions. To be most effective, treatment depends on preventing feelings of isolation by offering multiple levels of support.

Who will be taking care of me?

Referrals to specialists will come first, an Internist or Family Practice physician is not Board Certified to treat Oncology patients. Knowing what to ask your specialist initially may not be as important as knowing who your physician is and confirming he or she is Board Certified to treat your disease. Once you are comfortable with the choice of specialist consider the questions and issues that concern you most and write them down. The first step in a treatment plan will be an interview with the referred physician; this will be the time to voice your concerns. Be prepared with a notebook, pencil or pen.

Who should I bring with me?

It’s a good idea to bring a close friend or family member with you to the initial meeting. A second pair of eyes and ears can clarify, confirm, question or support the messages you hear from the physician.

What kind of treatment will I be receiving?

Informed Consent. Physicians are bound to inform patients of the best practice treatment options for their diagnosis. This includes potential risks and benefits. The patient needs to confirm their understanding of proposed treatments and agree to having them administered before they can begin. If this is not possible they need a designated Power of Attorney to make decisions on their behalf.

Where will I go for treatment?

The physician and staff will be explaining all of this to you.

You will be given the name of your contact person in the office. This person will be assisting you with referrals, appointments and treatment plans.

What stage is my cancer?

Staging cancer depends on various laboratory and radiology test results. Your physician will explain and interpret staging to you before treatment begins.

Historically, the word Cancer has instilled fear and anxiety in most people. Most cancers are treatable, cure rates have significantly improved for many forms of cancers, and medications for relief of discomfort associated with treatment are abundant now. It is proven that developing a positive and informed attitude enhances the effectiveness of treatment options. Becoming an active participant in treatment and taking advantage of available resources offers the necessary support needed for the journey through treatment and recovery.