I'm about to begin treatment

Working with Your Doctors

Find out how to build a comfortable working relationship with your care team in Your Guide to Cancer Care.

Because deciding on a course of treatment is such an important and personal decision, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about your options and resolve any lingering questions you may have.

Questions to ask your oncologist

  • What treatments do you recommend for me, and why?
  • What are the goals of my treatment? (e.g., remove the tumor, slow the disease’s progress, palliative care)
  • What are the benefits and risks of the treatments you recommend? Do they have any long-term risks?
  • How much time can I take to make a treatment decision?
  • What side effects can I expect? Are there conventional or complementary therapies available that can help alleviate these side effects?
  • Where do you recommend I go for treatment?
  • How long will my treatment last?
  • What are my other choices if I decide against this treatment plan?
  • Are there any clinical trials for my type of cancer that I should consider? What are the benefits and risks of those you recommend?
  • How will treatment affect my day-to-day life?
  • What are my options if the treatment doesn’t work?

Next steps

1. Get a second opinion. If the two doctors you meet have divergent opinions about the appropriate treatment for the cancer, you’ll have to make a decision about which approach — and doctor — you’re most comfortable with, or you can seek a third perspective. Learn more about getting a second opinion.

2. Obtain a copy of your medical records. Ask your doctors for copies of your chart and all of your test results to take with you to each of your appointments.

3. Learn about treatment options. Researching the different options available, including both conventional and complementary therapies, can help you make informed decisions about your treatment.

4. Research treatment facilities. Oncology programs vary widely in size, quality, area of expertise, and treatment philosophy. Above all, you want to look for a facility that has extensive experience and state-of-the-art equipment available for treating the type of cancer you have.

Taking Charge of Your Treatment

There’s a lot you can do to prepare your body, mind, and spirit for treatment. Learn how in Your Guide to Cancer Care.

5. Get organized. Cancer affects more than just your health. It also has an impact on your financial, personal, and professional life. For instance, you may have to make changes to your work schedule, or take some time off, while you’re in treatment, or make arrangements for childcare or help with day-to-day chores.

6. Take care of yourself. Eating a wholesome diet, getting enough rest, and staying as physically active as you are able will help you feel healthier and more confident throughout your treatment.

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