This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/10
Questions to Ask the Doctor
Regular communication with your doctor is important in making informed decisions about your health care. Consider asking the following questions of your doctor:
- Where exactly is the cancer located?
- What are my treatment options based on my diagnosis?
- What clinical trials are open to me?
- What treatment option do you recommend? Why?
- Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?
- Who will be coordinating my overall treatment and follow-up care?
- If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my cancer care, who can help me with these concerns?
- Does my diagnosis mean that my blood relatives are at higher risk for colorectal cancer? Should they talk with their doctors about screening?
- What do you know about my cancer at this point?
- What other tests will I have before surgery?
- Can you describe the surgery I will be having?
- What are you planning to remove during surgery (the colon, rectum, lymph nodes)?
- Is a biopsy part of the surgery?
- How soon after surgery will I have all test results and a firm diagnosis?
- Do you think I may need a temporary or permanent colostomy?
- Is this the standard type of surgery for my condition?
- How many times have you performed this type of operation successfully?
- Who will give me information about how I should get ready for surgery and a hospital stay? How long will I be in the hospital?
- How will my pain be controlled after surgery?
For rectal cancer
- Should I have radiation therapy and chemotherapy before my rectal cancer surgery?
- What is my diagnosis based on the results of surgery and biopsy reports, in TNM format?
- Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?
- Did the pathologist test my tumor for a possible genetic cause? Do I need more genetic counseling or testing?
- What is my prognosis?
- What additional treatment do you recommend? Why?
- What is the goal of each treatment?
- Is it a standard treatment or part of a clinical trial?
- What are the risks and possible side effects of treatment, both in the short term and the long term?
- How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?
- How long will it be before I can go back to work after surgery? Can I work during chemotherapy?
- What follow-up tests will I need, and how often will I need them?
- What support services are available to me? To my family?
Question related to a colostomy (if needed)
- Will you refer me to a specially trained nurse to decide on the best place for my colostomy and help me learn to manage it after the surgery?