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Ask Your Doctor
When a patient is first diagnosed, you are overwhelmed by a flood of emotions -- fear, devastation, confusion and hopelessness to name but a few. You are propelled into a confusing and unknown world, not knowing what to do or where to turn.  However, it is vitally important, once you have recovered from the first shock of the diagnosis and initial prognosis, that you step back and make sure you ask your doctor questions that ultimately will help you make an informed decision as to the treatment options and therapies that may be open to you - not all of which may be at that point actually known to him due to the fast changing world of new drug and therapy development.

As a start, you should ask your doctor the following:

  • Would you have a problem if I receive a second opinion?
  • What is the general prognosis for someone with my kind of cancer?
  • Of the approved and accepted treatments for my kind of cancer, what is the statistical success rate of those treatments?
  • How will those treatment options impact my quality of life?
  • Are there currently any new drug options that may be in clinical trials that may offer me an alternative option(s) that may be less toxic and provide me with potentially a better quality of life, understanding that they are still in research phase?
  • How do I go about finding out what clinical trial options may be open to me?
  • How do the new drugs or treatment therapies differ from accepted treatment standards (e.g. what is anti-angiogenisis -- EGF - gamma knife - monoclonal inhibitors, etc.)?
  • Are there any specialized treatment centers for my particular kind of cancer?
  • What are the costs involved and will my insurance cover a clinical trial treatment option?
  • What nutritional changes should I make to my diet?  What life-style changes should I make to make my body stronger and more receptive to any treatment I will receive?

It is imperative that patients do not stop asking questions throughout their treatment process.  Never put down every symptom you may have to the fact that it is the cancer that may be causing it.  Too many times, patients and doctors alike miss diagnosing other problems just because someone has cancer, ignoring the fact that they are at  the same risk to catch colds, develop diabetes, or have high blood pressure as the person who is cancer free.  So, be diligent and ask questions and do not stop until you receive the information you seek and receive the appropriate treatment. 

 

 

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