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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 go 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 health care provider if you can record the conversation.
Below are some questions to ask during your appointments.
What is the grade and stage of my cancer?
Has the cancer spread anywhere else in my body?
What are the treatment choices?
Do I need to be treated right away?
Is active surveillance an option?
What treatments do you think are best for me and why?
What treatments do you think are not for me and why?
What are the goals of the treatment you are recommending?
What is the success rate of this treatment for my type and stage of prostate cancer?
Are there any clinical trials I should apply for?
What is the length of the treatment period?
How long will each treatment take?
Where do I have to go for the treatment?
Who will give me the treatment?
Does someone need to go with me during treatments?
Can I take my other medicines during treatment?
What side effects should I expect?
How long will side effects last?
Are there side effects that I need to call you about?
How do I reach you after hours and on weekends?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
Should I change my diet? What foods can't I eat?
Will I be able to go to work and be around my family?
Are there support groups nearby that I can join?
How will I feel after the treatment?
What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
How will we know if treatment worked?
What are my options if the treatment doesn't work or the cancer comes back?
When you have answers from your health care provider, it’s time to think about your preferences. Think about what side effects you can and can’t tolerate. Think about whether active surveillance will only make you worry long-term. Talk about all of your concerns with your health care provider before making a decision about treatment.
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