Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor
When a person is first diagnosed with cancer, shock and stress are natural reactions. These feelings will make it difficult to think of everything to ask the doctor. Often, it helps to make a list of questions ahead of time. To help you remember what the doctor says, you may take notes during the visit, or bring a family member or friend with you when you talk to the doctor.
Here are some questions you may want to ask the doctor before treatment begins. You may find it helpful to print out this list and bring it with you to your next office visit.
Initial Dermatology Visit
- Do you think this mole is melanoma?
- Are you going to remove the entire tumor?
- Will I need a skin graft?
- How long will the biopsy take?
- Will it hurt?
- Will it leave a scar?
- What side effects can I expect and how long will they last?
- Am I going to have local or general anesthesia during the procedure?
- How soon will I know the results of the biopsy? Who will talk to me about the results?
- What is my diagnosis?
- What did the biopsy show?
- How thick is my tumor?
- Has the cancer spread? How far?
- Are more tests needed?
- Do I need a sentinel lymph node biopsy?
- What are the chances that this cancer might come back?
- If I do have cancer, who will talk with me about treatment? When?
- What treatment choices are best for me? Which do you recommend? Why?
- What are the chances that the treatment will be successful?
- What are the risks and possible side effects that I should know about?
- What is my expected prognosis (or: what can I look forward to), based on what you know about my cancer?
- How will I feel after the operation?
- If I have pain, how can it be controlled?
- Will I need more treatment after surgery?
- Will I need a skin graft or plastic surgery? Will there be a scar?
- What should I (and my family) do to be ready for treatment?
- Will treatment affect my normal activities? If so, for how long?
- What are the chances of my cancer recurring (coming back) with the treatment programs we have discussed?
- What steps should I take to avoid the sun?
- Do I need follow-up appointments to check for the possibility of cancer coming back, or the start of a new cancer? How often will I need checkups?
- What is the treatment likely to cost? Will my insurance cover some/all of it?
- Are any new treatments under study that might fit my condition? Would a clinical trial be right for me?
Be sure to write down some of your own questions to ask, in addition to those listed here.