21 Cancer Questions To Ask Your Oncologist

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Once you come to term with the cancer diagnosis, next step is gaining knowledge about your disease, as it reduces anxiety and helps to take an informed treatment decision. Ask your doctor whatever doubts you have regarding the disease and its treatment.

But knowing what to ask is very important. Here we have a compiled a list of questions that you can ask to your oncologist to gain more information about your diagnosis and treatment.

General Questions to Ask Your Oncologist

At the time of diagnosis, before the start of treatment

Your first visit to oncologist can be quite daunting due to anxiety and fear of the unknown. It is okay to feel that way but you need to hold your ground and try to gain more information about your diagnosis, treatment options available, and other things.

Here is the list of questions to ask oncologist on first visit.

1. What type of cancer do I have?

2. What is the stage of cancer?

3. Is it curable?

4. Is the diagnostic workup complete or do I need to get more tests done?

5. How many specialists would I require for treatment?

6. What is the prognosis of my disease?

7. What is the expected survival?

At the time of start of treatment

8. What are the various treatment options available?

9. How many different treatment modalities will be used?

10. Will the treatment be with a curative intent?

11. What are the possible side effects of treatment?

12. How many treatment sessions I have to take?

13. What will be the time interval between treatment sessions?

14. Should I continue other medicines I am taking now?

15. Will the treatment affect my fertility?

16. Do I have any dietary restrictions while on treatment?

At the end of treatment

17. Are there any delayed side effects of treatment?

18. What are the chances of my cancer returning back?

19. How frequently I have to come for follow up?

20. Are there any tests to be done on follow-up visits?

21. What symptoms should I be cautious of?

Specific Questions to Ask Your Oncologist Based on Type of Cancer

The questions may also depend on the type of cancer. There are some specific questions that you may ask your oncologist based on the cancer type

Anal Cancer

1. What type of anal cancer I have?

2. What is the stage of my anal cancer?

3. Will I need other tests before deciding treatment plan?

4. Is it curable?

5. What is prognosis of my disease?

6. What treatment do you recommend for me and why?

6. What are various treatment options available?

7. Will there be any side effects of treatment?

8. Any dietary restrictions during treatment?

9. Are there any tests to be done on follow-up visits?

10. What symptoms should I be cautious of?

11. Is my current treatment working or not?

Bladder Cancer

1. What type of bladder cancer I have?
2. Is the cancer metastatic or non metastatic or Is my cancer spread to other parts of my body?
3. Do I need to do other diagnostic tests before starting the treatment?
4. What are the treatment options available for my type of cancer?
5. Which treatment option do you recommend and why?
6. How long will the suggested treatment last?
7. How treatment will affect me i.e., probable side effects?
8. What are my chances of my recurrence and which symptoms should I take care of?
9. Is my current treatment working or not?
10. What are your diet recommendations during the treatment?
12. How can I manage my side effects?
13. Do I require follow ups after the treatment is over?
14. What would be the options if my cancer comes back?
15. What is the objective of the treatment?

Bone Cancer

  • What is the type of bone tumor I have?
  • What is the prognosis of my disease?
  • Is my current treatment working?
  • Is there any better treatment available for my cancer?
  • Any dietary restrictions during treatment?
  • Do I have to go through chemotherapy?
  • How can I manage my side effects from chemotherapy?
  • Any chances of recurrence? If yes, then which symptoms should I look out for?
  • Do I require followups after treatment is over?

Breast Cancer

  • What is the type of breast cancer I have?
  • Is my cancer metastatic or non metastatic?
  • Do I need any other diagnostic tests?
  • What other treatment options are available and which one do you recommend?
  • How can I manage my side effects?
  • Do you recommend any genetic testing of my tumor?
  • Are my children also at high risk because of my cancer?

Cervical Cancer

  • Can I reduce my risks of cervical cancer?
  • Do I need any other test or examination to diagnose my disease?
  • What treatment options are available and which one do you recommend?
  • Any side effects of your recommended treatment plan?
  • Any dietary restrictions before or after treatment?
  • What is prognosis of my disease?
  • What are my survival chances?
  • What is the objective of my treatment plan?

Colon Cancer

1. What is the type and stage of my colon cancer?

2. Is my colon cancer has metastasized?

3. Do I require any other diagnostic test?

4. How my cancer will affect my quality of my life?

5. What are my colon cancer treatment options?

6. What types of my doctor will I see during my treatment?

7. Is immunotherpy or any other modern cancer treatment technique an option for me?

8. What treatment options do I have and which one do you recommend and why?

9. Will I encounter any side effects because of your suggested treatment method?

10. Do I need colectomy to cure my cancer?

11. Any dietary restrictions during my treatment?

12. How much time do I need for recovery?

13. Can I workout during my treatment?

14. Is my current treatment working or not?

15. Do you recommend any clinical trial?

Esophageal Cancer

1. What is the stage of my disease?

2. What is the exact location of my cancer in the esophagus?

3. What is the type of esophageal cancer?

4. Are there any further investigations I need to get done before starting treatment?

5. Are there any genetic tests that I can undergo?

6. Is my cancer curable?

7. Is it localised or spread to other organs?

8. What will be my line of treatment?

9. How long will my treatment be for?

10. What modalities or combination of modalities will be used for my treatment out of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy?

11. Is there any role of targeted therapy or immunotherapy in esophageal cancer?

12. What will be my follow up schedule after my treatment is completed?

Stomach Cancer

1. Which part of the stomach is involved by cancer?

2. What is the extent of spread, or stage of the disease?

3. What are the investigations that need to be done to confirm the diagnosis and stage the disease?

4. Is there any role of genetic testing in stomach cancer?

5. is my cancer localised or spread to other parts of body?

6. What are the treatment options available for me?

7. Is there any role of targeted therapy or immunotherapy for my cancer?

8. What modality or combination will be used for my treatment out of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy?

9. Will I be completely cured of cancer?

10. How frequently should I follow up after my treatment is completed?

Head and Neck Cancer

1. What is the exact site of cancer in the head and neck region?

2. What is the stage of my disease?

3. Do I need to get HPV testing on the tumor?

4. Is my cancer curable?

5. Is it only localised to head and neck region or spread to other body parts?

6. What will be the treatment plan?

7. Is surgery possible or other modalities like radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy will be used?

8. Will radiation therapy be required after surgery?

9. Will chemotherapy be required after surgery?

10. Will the surgery be done only for the primary tumor or neck also?

11. Is there any role of targeted therapy or immunotherapy?

12. If it is spread to other sites, what chemotherapy will be used?

13. What are the possible complications of treatment?

14. What will be the follow up schedule after the treatment is complete?

Leukemia (Blood Cancer)

1. What is the type of leukemia I have?

2. Is it an acute or chronic leukemia?

3. Is it a myeloid or lymphpoid leukemia?

4. What is the risk stratification of my leukemia?

5. Do I have any molecular abnormalities and whether they are high risk or low risk?

6. What will be the treatment plan?

7. How long will the treatment last?

8. What are the possible side effects of treatment?

9. What is the prognosis of my disease?

10. Do I require a bone marrow transplant or not?

11. I there any role of targeted therapy or immunotherapy for my cancer?

12. What precautions do I need to take while on treatment?

13. What will be my follow up schedule after my treatment is complete?

Liver Cancer

1. What is the stage of my disease?

2. Do I also have Viral Hepatitis?

3. Is it only localised to liver or extends to other structures or spread to distant organs?

4. Can the tumor be removed by surgery or other modalities?

5. What are the other modalities that can be used if surgery is not possible?

6. Do I require and am I a candidate for liver transplantation?

7. What are the possible side effects of the treatment?

8. How long will the treatment last?

9. What is the prognosis of my disease?

10. What will be my follow up schedule after my treatment is completed?

Lung Cancer

1. What type of lung cancer do I have?

2. What is the stage of my disease?

3. Is it localised to lungs or spread to other body parts?

4. What will be the treatment modality or combination of treatments that will be used?

5. Is it curable?

6. Do I require any genetic or molecular tests to be done?

7. Is there a role of immunotherapy or targeted therapy for my treatment?

8. How long will my treatment last?

9. What will be my follow up schedule after my treatment is completed?

Lymphoma

1. What is the type of lymphoma that I have?

2. What is the stage of my lymphoma?

3. What are the investigations I need to get before starting treatment?

4. What will be the line of treatment?

5. Would I require radiation therapy also?

6. How many cycles of chemotherapy will be given?

7. What are the possible side effects of chemotherapy?

8. Are their any chances of long term complications with the treatment?

9. Is there any targeted therapy or chemotherapy available for treatment?

10. What is the prognosis of my disease?

11. What will be my follow up schedule after the treatment is complete?

Multiple Myeloma

1. What is the type of myeloma I have?

2. In which risk category of myeloma do I lie?

3. Do I have any high risk cytogenetic abnormalities?

4. What are the investigations required to confirm the diagnosis and stage the disease?

5. What are the treatment options available?

6. How long will the treatment last?

7. Do I also require bone marrow transplant?

8. What are the possible side effects with treatment, early and delayed?

9. What is the prognosis of my disease?

10. What will be the follow up schedule after the treatment is complete?

Ovarian Cancer

1. What is the stage of my cancer?

2. What re the investigations I need to undergo before starting treatment?

3. Is it possible to remove the ovary cancer by surgery in my case?

4. Wil the surgery be done directly or do I need to take chemotherapy first?

5. How many total cycles of chemothrapy do I require?

6. Am I a candidate for fertility preservation surgery?

7. What is the exact type of ovarian cancer I have?

8. What is the prognosis of my disease?

9. Is there an option of targeted therapy or immunotherapy for me?

10. Do I need to undergo any genetic testing?

11. What are the possible side effects with treatment?

12. What will be my follow up schedule after my treatment is complete?

Pancreatic Cancer

1. What are the further investigations I need to undergo to confirm the diagnosis and stage the disease?

2. What is the stage of my cancer?

3. Is my cancer curable? What is the prognosis of my disease?

4. What are the possible treatment options for me?

5. Is it possible to remove it with surgery

6. Do I need to undergo chemotherapy? If yes, which chemotherapy and how many cycles?

7. What are the possible side effects with chemotherapy?

8. Do I need to undergo radiation therapy also?

9. Are there any targeted therapy or immunotherapy options available for me?

10. What will be my follow-up schedule?

Questions for Prostate Cancer

  1. Are there any further investigations required to confirm and stage the disease?

2. What is the stage of my disease?

3. Is it metastatic, or spread to other parts of the body?

4. If localised, what risk category does it fall in?

5. What is my PSA and Gleason’s Score?

6. Do I require any treatment or will be under observation or active surveillance?

7. Should I undergo bilateral orchidectomy or take hormonal therapy for ablation?

8. Do I require to undergo chemotherapy also?

9. Do I need to undergo surgery for prostate removal?

10. Will I be treated with radiation therapy also?

11. Is my prostate cancer hormone sensitive or castrate resistant?

12. What is the disease prognosis, is it curable?

13. What will be my follow up schedule?

Kidney Cancer

  1. Do I need to undergo any further investigations to confirm the diagnosis and stage the disease?

2. What is the stage of my disease? Is it locoregional or has spread to distant sites?

3. Is it surgically resectable? If yes, do I require complete kidney removal or partial removal is possible?

4. Is my kidney cancer low risk or high risk?

5. If it has spread to other body parts, where all it is? Is it still possible to undergo surgery?

6. Do I require oral targeted therapy? If yes, which one and what will be it’s schedule and possible side effects?

7. Am I candidate for Immunotherapy?

8. Do I also require radiation therapy for treatment?

9. What is the prognosis of my disease?

10. What will be my follow up schedule?

Soft Tissue Sarcoma

  1. What type of sarcoma do I have?

2. Which organ of the body is it’s primary origin?

3. Is it locoregionally advanced or spread to other parts of the body?

4. What is it’s size and grade? What is the stage of my disease?

5. What is the treatment plan for me?

6. Is it surgically resectable? Or chemotherapy would be the main modality of treatment?

7. If surgery is possible, do I need to undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy before or after surgery?

8. Do I have any options of targeted therapy or immunotherapy for treatment?

9. What is the disease prognosis? Is complete cure possible?

10. What will be my follow up schedule?

Testicular Germ Cell Tumor

  1. What type of testicular cancer do I have, Seminoma or Non-Seminoma?

2. What is the stage of my disease?

3. Do I have any germ cell tumor marker elevated, and in what range?

4. What will be the treatment plan for me?

5. Will I receive chemoptherapy? If yes, what chemotherapy and how many cycles?

6. What are the possible side effects of chemotherapy?

7. Do I need to undergo radiation therapy?

8. What is my disease prognosis? What are the possible chances of cure?

9. What will be my follow up schedule?

Uterine (Endometrial) Cancer

  1. What type of uterine cancer do I have?

2. What is the stage of my disease?

3. What is the grade of my tumor?

4. Is my disease curable?

5. Is the tumor resectable with surgery?

6. Do I need to undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy after surgery?

7. What is my disease prognosis?

8. What will be my follow up schedule?

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