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Important Questions About Your Cancer Diagnosis

What to Ask When You Receive a Cancer Diagnosis


Updated July 09, 2009

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can make you feel a great amount of anger, frustration, and confusion. So many thoughts are running through your mind, it is easy to forget important questions and concerns that are vital to make important decisions about your care.

What to Bring with You to the Doctor's Appointment

Before your appointment, write down any questions or concerns you have in a notebook. Bring this notebook with you to your appointment so you don't forget any of your questions. You can record your doctor's answers in the notebook so you can review them later. Some even prefer to bring a small tape recorder so they can devote their full attention to what their doctor is discussing.

Bringing a trusted support person with you is also perfectly acceptable and often encouraged. This person can take notes and even contribute to the discussion by asking questions that perhaps you didn't think about.

11 Questions to Ask Your Doctor When You Get a Cancer Diagnosis

Here are some questions that are often forgotten, but are important to ask:
  • What is the extent or stage of the cancer I have?

  • What is my prognosis?

  • What are my treatment options? What treatment(s) do you suggest?

  • Why do you favor this treatment over others?

  • When will my treatment start, and how long will it last?

  • Can I continue working? How will treatment affect daily living?

  • Would a clinical trial be appropriate for me?

  • What will happen if I choose not to have treatment?

  • How long will I have to continue regular check-ups after treatment?

  • What are the associated financial costs, and will my insurance cover the recommended treatment?

  • Would you object to me getting a second opinion?

It is important to have a physician who will take the time to address your concerns. Cancer is never easy, and having a physician with a good bedside manner makes the journey much easier.


"Who's Who in Cancer Care." Cancer.org. American Cancer Society. 20 July 2000.

"Understanding Clinical Trials". Clinical Trials.gov. U.S. National Institutes of Health. 27 September 2007.

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