What questions should I ask my doctor?
If you are in the midst of dealing with pancreatic cancer, you have a lot on your mind and you may have difficulty knowing where to start. Since every patient has a unique case, your doctors are your best source of information and you have every right to ask them questions.
Heather Sentkoski, a clinical social worker at Johns Hopkins, has compiled the following list of questions as a quideline. Here are her suggestions:
If you are meeting with a surgeon or oncologist for the first time, do not be afraid to ask:
- Have you ever treated a PC patient before?
- If this is a surgeon, how many surgeries have you performed on PC patients?
- What has the general outcome of those patients been?
- Where were you trained? (medical school, residency)
- Which surgeons did you study under?
At any point in the relationship with your physican, you have the right to ask:
- What is the diagnosis?
- What treatments are recommended?
- Are there other treatment options available that you do not provide? i.e. protocol treatments, herbal therapy, touch therapy, other alternative therapies)
- What are the benefits of each treatment?
- What are the side effects of each treatment?
- What are the medications being prescribed? What are they for? What are their side effects?
- Are there any clinical drug trials I can participate in?
- How should I expect to feel during the treatment(s)?
- What are the risks of the treatment(s)?
- Will my diet need to be changed or modified?
- Will I need to take enzymes, vitamins, etc?
Do not forget to ask about the things that are most important to you:
- How will this affect my ability to work?
- Can this treatment be done as an outpatient so that I can spend more time at home with family?
- Will I have any physical limitations?
- How will my current lifestyle be changed?
Finally - and most importantly - ask these questions of YOURSELF:
- Does my doctor appear interested in answering my questions?
- Or, does my doctor look annoyed when I ask questions, like I'm doubting their expertise or I am holding them up?
- Do I feel that my doctor cares about my medical outcome?
If you are uncomfortable with the results of some of these questions, you may want to re-evaluate your choice of physician or get a second opinion.