Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Oncologist

Whether this is your first appointment or you are seeking a second opinion, the following is a list of suggested questions that can be helpful in gathering information about your diagnosis. (NOTE: This list is not exhaustive and some questions may not apply to your situation.)

  • What kind of breast cancer do I have?
  • How many tumors do I have, and how large are they? What is my tumor grade?
  • What are the breast cancer stages and how is staging determined? What stage cancer is my cancer?
  • What has been done to exclude cancer in other areas of the same breast or in my other breast?
  • Has the cancer spread to my lymph nodes or any other internal organs?
  • Can I have my biopsy reviewed by a pathologist at another diagnostic center? What other studies should be done on my tissue biopsy?
  • What kinds of additional tests will I need?
  • How urgent is it that I make decisions and begin treatment?
  • What treatment options are available and appropriate for my cancer? Are there any less or more aggressive treatment options available?
  • Will I need chemotherapy, radiation, or both? How often will I receive treatment and how is it given? Is there anything I should do to prepare for treatment? What side effects can I expect?
  • Can I continue my usual routine while I am in treatment? (work schedule, exercise, etc.)
  • Are there any foods, vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter medications I should avoid? Are there any recommended dietary changes or additions I should make?
  • Are there any sexual side affects of treatment? If so, how long will they last?
  • Will treatment affect my fertility? If I do become pregnant after treatment, what concerns should I be aware of? Does having reached menopause (or not) affect my treatment?
  • Will I need breast surgery? If so, will I need a mastectomy or a lumpectomy? Should I undergo any kind of treatment before breast surgery? Will I have normal sensation in my breast(s) after surgery?
  • How long is the recovery process after surgery?
  • Should I have breast reconstruction surgery? If so, how long after surgery should I wait before having reconstruction?
  • Are there any clinical trials I can participate in?
  • What are the chances that my cancer will come back after I undergo the treatment programs we discussed? What would be our plan of action if that were to happen?