10 Questions to Ask Before Beginning Cancer Treatment

Guest Author: Covenant Cancer Care Center

“You have cancer.” These are the words no one wants to hear a doctor speak to them. Those three words can fill you with all kinds of emotions: fear, confusion, helplessness, anxiety and stress. As the cancer leaders in the Great Lakes Bay Region, we treat more cancer patients than any other hospital in the area, so we can help guide you along your journey. And one of the most important tools, other than having the right team on your side, is knowledge.

If you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, here are 10 questions you may want to ask.

  1. What are the benefits of being treated locally or at a nationally-renowned cancer center?
    When it comes to cancer, many wonder if they should be treated close to home, or if they should travel to a nationally-renowned cancer center. Years ago, patients had to make a choice. But now that Covenant HealthCare is affiliated with MD Anderson Cancer Network®, a program of the leading cancer center in the nation, MD Anderson Cancer Center, patients have access to the expertise of world-renowned specialists right here in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

  2. What is your expertise for my type of cancer?
    There are hundreds of different kinds of cancer. The more experience a hospital has in treating your particular type, the more likely you are to have a better outcome. Of course, there are many variables, like the stage of the cancer and complications, but it’s worth asking about their expertise.

  3. Will I be treated by a comprehensive team of specialists?
    When it comes to cancer, it takes a village. Each specialist has an important role to play, whether it’s your oncologist, radiologist, surgeon, nurse, physical therapist, primary care physician or dietician. Keeping everyone “in the know” during your cancer treatment is critical for the best care possible.

  4. Do I need a second opinion?
    Getting a second opinion is always a good idea. And because our doctors work together, there’s the opportunity for collaboration and consultation. With the added expertise of MD Anderson Cancer Network®, we can now provide you with access to some of the most advanced treatment protocols for your particular cancer condition and, when possible, allow you to remain close to home and family.

  5. Is there a minimally invasive surgery option for my type of cancer?
    At Covenant, our skilled surgeons are often able to use da Vinci robots to perform procedures that help you recover quickly with less scarring and complications.

  6. How can my primary care physician stay in the loop?
    Through our Electronic Medical Records system, we are able to notify your primary care physician of your treatment plan, medication and progress. You are also able to access your labs, tests and physician notes through MyChart online or with our app.

  7. What are your surgical outcomes?
    No one has a crystal ball and can say your surgery will go perfectly without complications, but you can ask your doctor about his or her track record for the type of surgery you are having. Knowing this can help put your mind at ease.

  8. What type of rehabilitation services does your program offer?
    After some cancer surgeries, you can go to work the next day. For others, the journey is longer. Our goal is to minimize discomfort and encourage cancer survivors to have the best quality of life possible.

  9. What dietary changes should I make to support my treatment?
    Ask your registered dietician nutritionist, certified in oncology, if there are any foods or supplements that could potentially interfere with your medications. Being conscious and making good choices to eat healthier will help you on the road to recovery.

  10. Are there support groups for me and my family?
    If you’re living with cancer, you don’t have to feel alone. There are many support groups online and in local communities to help. At Covenant, we have support groups for patients and their families. If you would like to join one, let us help you find a support group now.

More questions may cross your mind in the months ahead. Write them down in a notepad or on your phone, then share your questions and concerns with your doctor.

A cancer diagnosis can be scary. And one day, we may have the answer on how to cure it. But until then, you have some of the knowledge you need to help you be smarter in fighting it.

Posted Date: 12/8/2015

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