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
- Would you have a problem if I receive a second
- 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