What to Ask

Asking questions about your cancer care helps you become better informed, and may help you cope with your diagnosis.

There is absolutely no question too big or too small when it comes to your health. Arizona Center for Cancer Care will make every effort to answer each and every one of you and your family’s questions about your diagnosis and treatment at all times.

Consider writing down your questions before the appointment, and please feel free to use some of the questions below to help you generate ideas on what you would like to ask:

  1. What type of cancer do I have?
  2. Where is it located?
  3. What are the risk factors for this disease?
  4. Is this type of cancer caused by genetic factors? Are other members of my family at risk?
  5. How many people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year?
  6. What lifestyle changes—such as diet, exercise, and rest—do you recommend I make to stay as healthy as possible before, during, and after treatment?
  7. Where can I find more information about my type of cancer?
  8. What are some common symptoms of this type of cancer?
  9. How can I prevent or manage them?
  10. What are the treatment options for my symptoms?
  11. Will certain activities make my symptoms worse?
  12. What should I do if new symptoms arise or existing ones worsen?
  13. What diagnostic tests or procedures will I need? How often?
  14. Where will I go to have the tests or procedures?
  15. How can I prepare myself for them?
  16. What will we learn from the tests or procedures?
  17. When will I get the results, and how will I receive them? For example, will I receive them over the phone or at my next appointment?
  18. What does my pathology report (laboratory test results) tell us about my cancer?
  19. Will I need to repeat any tests or procedures if I seek a second opinion?
  20. How and when would you recommend I communicate with loved ones about my diagnosis?
  21. What is the stage of my cancer? What does this mean?
  22. Has cancer spread to my lymph nodes or any other parts of my body?
  23. How is staging used to help decide the best type of cancer treatment?
  24. What is my prognosis, also called chance of recovery?
  25. What are my treatment options?
  26. Which treatments, or combination of treatments, do you recommend? Why?
  27. What is the goal of the treatment you are recommending? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?
  28. What clinical trials (research studies involving volunteers) are open to me? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?
  29. Who will be part of my cancer care team, and what does each member do?
  30. How much experience do you—or other members of the cancer care team—have treating this type of cancer?
  31. Will I need to be hospitalized for treatment, or will this treatment happen in an outpatient clinic?
  32. What is the expected timeline for my treatment? Do I need treatment immediately?
  33. How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?
  34. What are the short- and long-term side effects of this treatment?
  35. Will this treatment affect my fertility (ability to become pregnant or father children)?
  36. How will you treat side effects that I experience during treatment?
  37. How can I keep myself as healthy as possible during treatment?
  38. What are clinical trials?
  39. How do clinical trials help people with cancer?
  40. Are any clinical trials treatment options for me?
  41. What happens during a clinical trial?
  42. What are the benefits and risks of participating in a clinical trial?
  43. How will I be monitored while participating in a clinical trial?
  44. What are my responsibilities during the clinical trial?
  45. Are there any costs associated with my participation in a clinical trial?
  46. Where can I learn more about clinical trials?
  47. What support services are available to me? To my family?
  48. May I contact you or the nurse if I have additional questions?
  49. Whom should I call with questions or concerns during non-business hours?
  50. Can you recommend a social worker to help locate support services?
  51. Where can I find resources for children? For teenagers? For young adults? For older adults?
  52. If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my cancer care, who can help me with these concerns?
  53. Who handles health insurance concerns in your office?
  54. What follow-up tests will I need, and how often will I need them?
  55. Is there anything else I should be asking?

Additional Tips

Always tell your doctor if you are having trouble understanding an explanation or unfamiliar medical words. Sometimes, the doctor may be able to draw a picture or give an example that would help you understand.

Let your doctor know if you are interested in seeking a second opinion. Most doctors understand the value of a second opinion, and your current doctor may even be able to recommend another doctor.

Ask your doctor or nurse where you can find additional information or printed materials about your condition. Many offices have this information readily available.

Talk with your health care team about information you have found on the Internet or in books or magazines. Not all information is accurate and reliable.