Talking with healthcare providers about cancer can be overwhelming. It can be hard to take in all of the information. It helps to be prepared. Make a list of questions and bring them to your appointments. Write the answers down in a notebook. Make sure you ask how the treatment will change your daily life, including your diet, and how you will look and feel after treatment. Ask how successful the treatment is expected to be, and what the risks and possible side effects are.
You may also want to ask a friend or family member to go with you. He or she can take notes and write down the answers, and also ask questions you may not think of. You can also ask your healthcare provider if you can record the conversation.
Below are some questions to ask during your appointments.
What kind of breast cancer do I have?
What is the grade and stage of my cancer?
Has the cancer spread anywhere else in my body?
What are the treatment choices?
What treatments do you think are best for me?
What are the goals of each of these treatments?
How will I feel during treatment? Will treatment change my daily life?
How will I look during and after treatment?
Where will the scars be? What will they look like?
Is breast-conserving surgery an option for me?
Will my lymph nodes be removed? How many and why?
Will I need to know how to take care of my incision when I get home?
If I decide to have reconstructive surgery, how and when can that be done? Can you suggest a plastic surgeon?
Are there any long-term or permanent side effects I should know about?
Will treatment affect my ability to get pregnant or give birth?
What is the success rate of this treatment for my type and stage of breast cancer?
What is the life expectancy for someone with my stage of cancer receiving this treatment?
Are there any clinical trials that I can apply for?
How much will treatment cost? Will my insurance cover it? How much will I have to pay for treatment?
Can you recommend another doctor who could give me a second opinion about my treatment options?
What is the length of the treatment period? When will it start?
How long will each treatment take?
Where do I have to go for the treatment?
Will I need to stay in the hospital? If so, for how long?
Who will give me the treatment?
Does someone need to be with me during the treatment?
Can I take my other medicines during treatment?
How will I feel during treatment?
What side effects can I expect to have?
How long will the side effects last?
Are there side effects that I need to call you about?
How can I reach you after hours and on weekends?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
How will we know if the treatment is working?
Will I be able to go to work and be around my family?
Should I change my diet? What foods can’t I eat?
Should I exercise? What type of exercise should I do?
Are there support groups nearby that I can join?
How will I feel after the treatment?
What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
Am I at risk for lymphedema?
How will we know if the treatment worked?