24 Things To Ask Your Dr. About Head And Neck Cancer

by GregP_WN

When  Barbara Bragg's Husband was diagnosed with Head and Neck Cancer, they had questions, and needed answers. But sometimes forgot what to ask, what was important. So after going through the diagnoses, treatment and recovery, they now know what they wished they knew then. Barbara is one of our WhatNexters and shares with us what to ask.


Head and Neck Cancers on the Rise

The incidence of head and neck cancers related to the human papillomavirus (HPV) is rising in the United States according to the US National Cancer Institute. One person dies every hour of every day from this type of cancer. It’s a shocking statistic.

As we have come to appreciate, patient nurturing, patient specific questions, side effects and after effects of treatment are all a mystery of sorts. Office visits to each specialist can be emotionally draining, but for patients and caregivers go armed with a list of questions. 

However you decide to face the challenges of a cancer diagnosis and treatment, I think it is important for the patient and caregiver to know the options and to be comfortable with all decisions. 

  Here are the questions we asked our specialists.

To the radiation oncologist:

1. Will there be external radiation burns of the skin? 
2. Will there be scar tissue, specifically to the esophagus?
3. What type of swallowing problems will he have?
4. What do we do about eating?
6. What is Amifostine? Do you use injections?
7. Will his salivary glands be affected by treatment?
8. Will his taste buds be affected?
9. Is there anything we can do to improve his chances of a “full recovery?”
10. What about seeing a dentist before we begin? We read where his gums and teeth may be affected by the radiation?
11. Will he get mouth sores?

To the medical oncologist

1. We are not comfortable with the Cisplatin and read that carboplatin is an easier drug for the body to handle. Why did you decide to use Cisplatin? 
2. He is in his sixties and we’re concerned about his kidneys. What precautions will you take, to prevent them from being damaged?
3. What would be the advantage to the smaller, more frequent doses?
4. What are the disadvantages of smaller, more frequent doses?
5. What type of ear toxicity will there be?
6. How nauseous will he be?
7. How difficult will it be to eat solid foods?
8. We he need to eat through a tube?
9. How much weight will he lose?
10. What is a port?
11. How do we tell he is not tolerating the drug?
12. What if he is not tolerating the drug. What do we do?
13. Who will be our single point of contact?
12. What if he is not tolerating the drug. What do we do?
13. Who will be our single point of contact? 

As my husband’s caregiver since his diagnosis of stage IVa Oropharyngeal cancer, our journey prompted the writing of this book documenting our experiences in an effort to help bring awareness to the growing number of head and neck cancer diagnoses. For me, it’s all about gratitude and paying it forward.

Barbara Bragg is an Educator, Speaker and Author of Destination Cancer Free: Navigating the Challenges of Head and Neck Cancer.

Stop by Barbara's profile page on WhatNext and tell her thanks for sharing the information, and ask the questions you need answers to.

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