'I have been diagnosed with breast cancer: Now what?'

Questions women should ask their doctors after diagnosis

Posted: Saturday, October 31, 2009

As women cope with cancer and cancer treatment, the American Cancer Society encourages them to have honest, open discussions with their doctors.

They should feel free to ask any question on their minds, no matter how small it might seem. Here are some questions women might want to ask. They should be sure to add their own questions as they think of them.

Nurses, social workers, and other members of the treatment team may also be able to answer many questions.

• Would you please write down the exact type of cancer I have?

• How does this affect my treatment options and outlook?

• May I have a copy of my pathology report?

• Has my cancer spread to lymph nodes or other organs?

• What is the stage of my cancer? What does that mean in my case?

• What treatment choices do I have? What do you recommend? Why?

• Should I think about taking part in a clinical trial?

• What are the risks or side effects of different treatments?

• What should I do to get ready for treatment?

• How effective will breast-reconstruction surgery be if I need or want it?

• Will I have normal sensation in my breasts after my treatment?

• Will I lose my hair? If so, what can I do about it?

• What are the chances of my cancer coming back with the treatment you suggest? What would we do if that happens?

• Should I follow a special diet or make other lifestyle changes?

• Will I go through menopause as a result of my treatment?

• Will I be able to have children after my treatment?

• What are my chances of survival, based on my cancer as you see it? ACS also recommends that women write down any questions that occur to them not included in this list.

For instance, women may want to ask about recovery times so that they can plan work or other schedules. Or they may want to ask about second opinions.



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