Questions for Your Oncologist

When you are diagnosed with cancer, there are certain questions you should ask your doctor so you’ll better understand your illness and what to expect during treatment. We recommend that you write other questions in your cancer notebook so you’ll make sure to ask your oncologist.

Your cancer care team may not know all of the answers to these questions at your first appointment, but once you have a treatment plan in place, you should be able to get through this entire list.

  • What is my exact diagnosis and stage?
  • Will I need more tests?
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • What are the treatment options for my cancer?
  • What is the goal of treatment–to cure or control my symptoms?
  • Does my cancer treatment plan include surgery?
  • What are the possible risks of treatment?
  • Will cancer treatment affect my daily life?
  • What are the side effects of my treatment options?
  • How long will treatment last?
  • What problems or symptoms should I report right away?
  • What does my future (prognosis) look like, as you see it?
  • Do my siblings or children have an increased risk of developing this type of cancer?
  • Should I exercise during chemotherapy or radiation treatments?
  • Will I need to see other medical or cancer specialists as part of my treatment?

Take Notes

As a cancer patient, you will receive a large amount of important information in a short time. It’s a good idea to take notes during each of your doctor’s appointments. One easy way to stay organized is to purchase a binder that includes paper for notes as well as pockets where you can place information given to you.

Between visits you can jot down questions and concerns that come up so you’ll remember to discuss them with your cancer care team. If you’re worried that you’ll miss important information while you’re taking notes or a written notebook just isn’t ideal for you, you might want to record conversations with your physician (many smartphones have a recording feature) and write down the important information in your notebook later.

Second Opinion

It is only natural that you want to be absolutely certain that you have cancer before beginning treatment. It’s understandable that you may want to get a second opinion on your diagnosis and recommended treatment before making any decisions. There is no harm in doing this, and it will help you feel confident about your diagnosis and treatment.

Our oncologists provide second opinions regularly for patients. Most insurance companies will cover a second opinion assessment, but you should always check with your insurance provider before making an appointment.