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Questions to Ask When the Diagnosis is Cancer

Hearing the “C word” in a conversation with a doctor can make your breath stop and your heart beat faster while your mind races to grasp the gravity of the situation. There’s no two ways about it – this diagnosis is a scary one. Even so, it’s not always a death sentence, nor does it have to mean an end to life as you know it. The key is arming yourself with information to guide your next steps and help you in the days ahead. To do this, however, you have to talk openly with your doctor and find out exactly where you stand.

The first step is taking a deep breath and regaining composure so the questions that have to be asked will be asked. If you can’t ask right away, schedule a follow up appointment and come armed with a list of the questions that will help put your mind at ease. Write down your questions, if necessary, so you don’t forget anything important.

What You Need to Know

While you might not want to explore your cancer and the impending treatment in the depth a medical student might, there are some questions you need the answers to in order to properly guide your decision-making over the course of treatments. Here are just some of the questions you, as a patient, have a right to solid answers on:

·         What type of cancer do I have and where is it located?

·         Has it spread?

·         What treatment options are you recommending? Why?

·         Are there alternative treatments available?

·         Where can I find more information about the type of cancer I have?

·         Is this form of cancer genetic? If so, what family members should I inform?

·         What side-effects can I anticipate from treatment?

·         Are there ways to mitigate them?

If your doctor is a good one, answering all these questions – and many more – will be part of his or her routine. The better informed you are about what’s to come, the greater a role you can play in helping win the battle against the disease.