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Top Ten Questions To Ask Your Oncologist

By Abby Henry Singh July 1, 2013Pearls of Wisdom Blog

If you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer, you may be confused and overwhelmed. You probably want answers, but you may not even know what questions to ask. As a cancer survivor, you should be able to talk openly and honestly with your oncologist. Use these must-ask questions* as a guide to start talking with your oncologist.

  1. What is my diagnosis?

This question may seem simple enough, but in the rush of appointments, you may not receive a clear answer. If you are unsure of your diagnosis, ask your oncologist.

  1. What is my prognosis?

Knowing your prognosis can help you better prepare for the future and select your best treatment plan. Consider having a family member or friend with you at this appointment so that you have trusted support with you.

  1. What are my treatment options?

Ask your oncologist to explain all your treatment options, including possible side effects, duration of treatment, success rates, and cost.

  1. What would you recommend?

Ask your oncologist which treatment he or she recommends. If you are unsatisfied with your options, do not be afraid to seek a second opinion. If you need more information about how to seek a second opinion, call the Cancer Supportive Services professionals at PearlPoint Cancer Support.

  1. Am I eligible for a clinical trial?

Clinical trials help improve the standard of care for all cancer patients. Based on your situation, a clinical trial may also be your best treatment option. Your doctor should be willing to explore options with you.

  1. What are the possible short-term and long-term side effects, as well as late effects, of the treatment you choose?

Always ask about short-term and long-term side effects, as well as late effects, before beginning treatment so you are prepared. Consulting with the Cancer Supportive Services professionals at PearlPoint Cancer Support should be one of the first steps you take in planning for your treatment in order to minimize the impact of side effects.

  1. How can I manage these side effects?

Some side effects can be easily managed through diet, exercise, or over-the-counter medication. Other side effects may require prescription medication, occupational therapy, or physical therapy.

  1. How can I keep myself as healthy as possible during treatment?

Your own immune system plays a big part in your fight against cancer. It is important to stay as healthy as possible while undergoing cancer treatment. Nutrition is key to staying healthy during treatment. Call PearlPoint Cancer Support to speak to a registered dietitian.

  1. Where can I find help with financial concerns?

Evaluate your financial situation as soon as possible. You will not want to deal with financial stress in the middle of treatment when you may not feel well.

  1. What is my follow-up care plan?

After you finish treatment, make sure you and your oncologist create a follow-up care plan. You may also need follow-up care for long-term side effects, or for late effects from your treatment.


* Adapted from the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s “Questions to Ask the Doctor.”

Abby Henry Singh

Author Abby Henry Singh

Manger Content, Outreach, and Outcomes Abby Henry Singh is a native of Sevierville, Tennessee, and a graduate of Belmont University with a bachelor’s degree in English and history. She has been a member of PearlPoint Cancer Support for over 5 years. Previously, Singh was the Program and Outreach Manger for the Lupus Foundation of America, Mid-South Chapter where she worked to raise disease awareness and support those diagnosed with the disease through educational programs. She is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and the Belmont English alumni book club.

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