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Questions to Ask When Meeting with Your Healthcare Team

couple holding hands while speaking to doctor

Dealing with cancer can be overwhelming, whether meeting with your healthcare team for the first time or for a follow up visit. Having questions prepared in advance can help you take an active role in planning your cancer care.

To help your healthcare team focus on your concerns, choose questions that are most important to you. You may want to circle the questions you want answered and add any of your own. Ask the questions at the start of your visit with your healthcare team. Download a copy of these questions here.


Questions about my cancer:

  • What type of cancer is it?
  • Is it local or has it spread?
  • Do I need to do any other tests to find out how far it has spread?
  • Will this cancer shorten my life?
  • Is it possible to give me a time frame?
  • What is the best-case scenario?
  • What is the worst-case scenario?


Questions about my treatment:

  • What are the goals of treatment for my cancer?
    • to help me have a better chance of living longer
    • to cure it?
    • to shrink it?
    • to slow it down?
    • to get rid of symptoms like pain?
  • How can I tell if the treatment is working?
  • How likely is it that further treatments will work?
  • Should I consider a new or experimental treatment?
  • Are there any other professionals I should talk to (other doctors, social workers or clergy)?


Questions while receiving treatment:

  • Can I do my usual activities during treatment?
  • How will treatment make me feel?
  • Are there treatments to help me manage pain, fatigue, nausea, or other symptoms?
  • Should I see a specialist in pain and symptom control?
  • What can I expect to be able to do in the future (working, driving, traveling, holidays)?
  • What can I do?
  • What can help me get the most out of my life (diet, exercise, meditation, massage, support groups, etc.)?
  • Are there any specific materials that would be useful (books, videos, pamphlets)?
  • Are there any organizations or services that would be useful for me or my caregiver (support organizations,
  • social services, disability parking)?


Questions if treatment stops working:

  • Who will be my doctor if I no longer receive chemotherapy or radiation?
  • What is:
    • Palliative care/Supportive care?
    • Hospice?
  • When should I talk about end-of-life care?
  • How can I prepare for my end of life?


Questions to help family members/caregivers:

  • How can I help my family and children understand what is happening? Who can help me with this?
  • What skills will they need to help take care of me?
  • What can they do to cope and care for their self while caring for me?
  • Who can they talk to if they are concerned about me or my care?

 

Adapted with Permission From: Walczak, A. et al. (2013). "A question prompt list for patients with advanced cancer in the final year of life: development and cross-cultural evaluation." Palliative Medicine, 27(8), 779-788. doi: 10.1177/0269216313483659