10 Questions You Should Ask Your Oncologist About Treatment

Contributed by: Dr See Hui Ti

A cancer diagnosis may be overwhelming, but know that you do not have to go through the journey alone. Your medical oncologist will be there for you every step of the way. As a patient, you can become a self-advocate by asking questions and actively participating in your cancer care.

If you have just been diagnosed with cancer, you may be wondering, “what’s next”? The first step is to bring a list of questions you may have regarding your disease to your next appointment.

You can also bring along a loved one who can not only help take down any important advice given by the oncologist, but also provide emotional support when needed.

  1. What type of cancer do I have and what stage is it?
  2. Understanding the specific type of cancer you have is pivotal in developing an effective treatment plan. Cancer is an immensely complex disease; different types and stages of cancer may require different approaches.

    The more information you have about your condition, the better prepared you'll be to make informed decisions regarding your treatment and care.

  3. What are my treatment options?
  4. After clarifying the type of cancer you have and what stage it is, you can discuss with your oncologist about your treatment options. Understanding the potential therapies and the possible combinations is essential in your cancer journey.

  5. What are the benefits and risks of each treatment?
  6. Every treatment option has its own set of benefits and risks. Your oncologist will explain the potential side effects, success rates, and long-term outcomes associated with each treatment option so that you can weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision.

  7. When will I need to start treatment?
  8. The timing of treatment is a critical aspect of your cancer care. Knowing the timeline of your personalised treatment plan will also enable you to plan and make the necessary arrangements in other aspects of your life.

  9. What new symptoms should I look out for after I begin treatment?
  10. Recognising and addressing treatment-related symptoms can not only enhance your quality of life and comfort, but can also prevent further complications. It can also lead to timely treatment modifications if needed, which may result in more effective management and even improve outcomes.

  11. How will treatment affect my daily routine?
  12. Cancer treatment may impact your daily routine, work, and relationships. It is important to speak with your oncologist and be equipped with the knowledge on how to manage these changes.

  13. Will treatment affect my fertility?
  14. Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, may cause temporary or permanent infertility. As such, you should explore fertility preservation options with your oncologist who may refer you to a fertility specialist if needed.

  15. What support services are available to help me cope with my diagnosis?
  16. Throughout the whole cancer journey, you may require support services to help you cope with the psychological aspects of the disease.

    CanHOPE – a non-profit cancer counselling and support service provided by Parkway Cancer Centre – offers cancer counselling, nutrition in cancer care, rehabilitation, palliative care, and support group activities and programmes. Do discuss with your oncologist about the services you need.

  17. Should I consider joining a clinical trial?
  18. Participating in a clinical trial is a possibility that can offer patients access to cutting-edge treatments. Ask your oncologist about the availability of relevant clinical trials, potential benefits, and associated risks. Discuss whether it is a suitable option for your specific cancer type and stage.

  19. What are my long-term survival chances?
  20. You should definitely discuss your prognosis (outcomes) with your oncologist and make sure to clarify any doubts you have. Understand that conversations about prognosis are complicated, as cancer is a very complex disease and every patient is unique, which means that each patient can respond very differently to treatment.

Taking control of your cancer journey

Navigating your cancer journey can be difficult, but it can be made easier by understanding everything you can about your disease and the possible treatment options.

More often than not, patients feel fear because of the uncertainty they have, but having your questions answered can empower you with the knowledge you need to face your disease. By actively engaging with your oncologist, you can take control of your cancer journey and equip yourself with the power, strength, and confidence to fight it.

POSTED IN Cancer Treatments
TAGS cancer awareness, cancer diagnosis, cancer quality of life, cancer survivorship