Talking with health care 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 come 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 doctor if you can record the conversation.
Below are some questions to ask during your appointments.
Deciding on a treatment
What is the level and depth of my melanoma? Do I have melanoma in my lymph nodes?
Has the cancer spread anywhere else in my body?
Are there other tests that need to be done before we can decide on treatment?
How much experience do you have treating melanoma?
What are the treatment choices?
Which treatment do you think is best for me?
What is the risk of recurrence with each treatment?
Are there any clinical trials that I can apply for?
Getting ready for treatment
Over what period of time will I get this treatment?
What should I do to get ready for the treatment?
Who will give me the treatment?
How long will each treatment take?
Does someone need to go with me during treatments?
Coping during treatment
What side effects might I have during and after treatment?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
How long will side effects last?
Will I be able to go to work and be around my family?
Are there support groups nearby that I can join?
Will I have a scar?
What things can I do now to decrease my risk of recurrence?
What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
March 30, 2020
Alteri, Richard MD, Foster, Sara, RN, MPH