• Questions to ask at the first meeting with an oncologist?

    Asked by Vivenia on Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Questions to ask at the first meeting with an oncologist?

    I have my first meeting with an oncologist on friday. I had my hemicolectomy about three weeks ago, and they confirmed it was stage three colon cancer on the 7th. I've been reading tons of stuff online, and I guess I've made myself nervous.

    6 Answers from the Community

    6 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I done the same thing my last diagnoses for Head & Neck cancer, I found all sorts of things that said I should be dead, or would be soon. all gloom and doom stuff. I went to the first meeting with doc and asked all those questions, He says, "you've been on the internet, haven't you"? Don't put too much stock into what you read about numbers, percentages of who will make it, reoccurence, etc. Every case is different, some worse than others, some far better than others, you are you. Even if the numbers say 90% won't make it, OK, somebody has to be in tha 10%, might as well be ME.
      Ask particular questions about YOU. What is the Plan. When do we start. How long will it take. What drugs will I get. What are the side effects. What should you do if you see, feel, or have something that's wrong. Who should you call in the middle of the night if you need to. Will you have radiation. Write the questions down, have them ready when you go to the doc. I always forget what I wanted to asks.

      Best of luck to you, you will be on the other side of this before you know it!!

      almost 9 years ago
    • CarolLHRN's Avatar

      I would highly recommend bringing someone with you to be a second pair of ears. You will probably be given a lot of information and it's good to have someone else there to listen and take notes.

      Write down all of your questions. This way you won't forget to ask something. I would also suggest befriending the nurses at the office. My oncologist was great but when it came to questions about living through the treatments, he always referred me to the nurses.

      Drummerboy has a great list of questions below. And I agree. Keep the conversation focused on you and your particular case. You are young for colon cancer (like me) and lots of the stats don't apply to younger people. Most studies were done with older men. We are young women and a lot tougher than those older men!

      Let us know what your treatment will be and I am sure someone on this site has been through it. I had FOLFOX and would be glad to share my experiences with you.

      almost 9 years ago
    • Lirasgirl33's Avatar

      Hi Vivenia,

      You can visit: cancer.gov and go under publications for colon cancer. You can order a booklet for free called "What you need to know about cancer of the colon and rectum". It includes questions to ask your doctor. You can either order the actual booklet to receive via mail or you can view it as a pdf document OR read it as a webpage here : http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/colon-and-rectal/page1. When I was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer I ordered the booklet for cervical and it really helped me understand the basics of what was going on. They have tons of free publications including ones on dealing with side effects of treatment and also nutrition. It was all very helpful to me.

      Make a list of questions regarding anything you are unsure of regarding your diagnosis and treatment plan. Leave room between each question so you can write down the answer your doctor gives you.

      Hope some of this helps. I truly wish you all the best. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. :)

      almost 9 years ago
    • Vivenia's Avatar

      Thank you all for the good advice. This site has been a lifesaver for me, seeing so many people who have fought and survived help me to stay more positive.

      almost 9 years ago
    • kalen's Avatar

      I went to all the first appointments with my sister (26/colorectal) as the second pair of ears that CarolLHRN mentioned. I am an Engineer, so I was a little over the top, with a 3" binder full of research papers, her records, test results, etc. In that binder, I had prepared 3 pages of questions that started with a site Lirasgirl33 recommended, but tailored all the questions specifically to my sister's case. Here is the good news, we went to two different oncologists, and in both appointments I had to ask maybe 1 or 2 questions from the list. The rest were answered as part of our conversation.

      I second being careful what you read on the internet, but don't disregard the truly inspiring stories out there. One thing I constantly have to remind my sister about, is that the percentages include 80 year old dudes that pass away for things like heart attack, stroke, etc. If it is in 5 years, it goes against that 5 year survival rate. Also, the statistics are usually given without a defined sample set, so for all you know, it could include folks from the 1990's and I think we would all agree that the "fight" has changed a lot since then.

      In addition to the direct questions regarding your cancer, you'll also want to get a feel for the doctor and how well you like him/her. I would strongly recommend getting a second opinion on treatment plans, but as CarolLHRN mentioned, both will probably recommend FOLFOX for Colorectal. Other countries sometimes start with FOLFIRI , but not often in the US.

      almost 9 years ago
    • Jayne's Avatar

      It's also really important to have a good "feeling" about your oncologist. I loved my first one, he was very involved with my well being both emotionally and physically and even gave me his home number (granted, my husband and I were both patients of his) but I always felt like he truly cared. Not so much with my second but now that I know the ropes, I can deal with his lack of bedside manner. In the beginning though, when everything is so frightening, you need to feel comfortable with your doc. So, to some degree, trust your instincts. It's actually very similar to finding a good Primary doc, you have to feel a connection. And....it's totally understandable to be nervous. Hang in!

      almost 9 years ago

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