Talking with healthcare 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 come 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 doctor if you can record the conversation.
Below are some questions to ask during your appointments. Not all of these may apply to your situation. But asking questions that do apply can help you get a better idea of what to expect.
What is the level and depth of my melanoma? Do I have melanoma in my lymph nodes?
Has the cancer spread anywhere else in my body?
Are there other tests that need to be done before we can decide on treatment?
How much experience do you have treating melanoma?
What are the treatment choices?
Which treatment do you think is best for me? Why?
What is the risk of recurrence with each treatment?
Are there any clinical trials that I can apply for?
How soon do I need to start treatment?
Over what period of time will I get this treatment?
What should I do to get ready for the treatment?
Where do I have to go for treatment?
Who will give me the treatment?
How long will each treatment take?
Does someone need to go with me during treatments?
What side effects might I have during and after treatment?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
How long will side effects last?
What side effects should I call you about?
What number do I call? After office hours? On weekends?
Will I be able to go to work and be around my family?
Are there support groups nearby that I can join?
Will I have a scar?
What things can I do now to decrease my risk of recurrence?
What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
How will I know if the cancer has come back? What should I watch for?
What would my options be if the treatment doesn't work or the cancer comes back?
Who will be in charge of my care?
How can I get a copy of the treatment summary and a follow-up care plan (survivorship care plan)?
When you have answers from your healthcare provider, it's time to think about your preferences. Talk about all of your concerns with your healthcare provider before making a decision. You may also want to get input from family and friends.