Every cancer diagnosis is unique.
Cancer varies from person to person because it is measured by several different factors. It is important to ask your doctors for as much information as possible about your individual cancer in order to ensure you are receiving optimal care.
Unless you require urgent treatment take the time to become as educated as possible before agreeing to recommended treatment(s).
Some of the most important questions to ask are the following:
1. What is the clinical stage and pathological grade of my cancer?
2. Which treatment(s) will give me the best quality of life and greatest life expectancy?
3. What other tests can I have to see if the cancer has spread?
4. How long will it take to get the results of these tests?
5. Can I get a copy of the test results?
6. Can you explain the results of my complete blood count (CBC)?
7. Are there hormone receptor tests available for my type of cancer?**
8. What is the outlook or prognosis for my cancer?
9. Would I be better off being treated in a more specialized center?
10. How much time should I take to make a decision about treatment?
11. What would my life expectancy be if I didn't have any treatment?
**For example, breast cancer should always be tested for HER2 and hormone
If you've received a cancer diagnosis, you may be referred to a number of different specialists, such as a Surgeon, Medical Oncologist, Radiation Oncologist, Immunologist, or Hematologist. The information you will receive will be vast and sometimes difficult to comprehend, but there are a number of things you can do to help:
Find a partner - whether it be family member, friend, or neighbor, it helps to have someone to go to your appointments with you to help retain the information provided
Get as much information as possible from your doctor about your unique diagnosis - Everyone’s cancer is unique in terms of their clinical stage and pathological grade
Ask questions - Be prepared for every appt, in order to ask your healthcare team the most helpful questions in your short appt time. Be sure to bring a pen and notepad to write everything down or record the conversation your phone
Educate yourself - stick with government or hospital websites for accurate information. Otherwise information on the internet may be inaccurate and misleading