July 18, 2015

Checklist: What questions to ask your oncologist


If the diagnosis is cancer, use this checklist with your doctor to make sure you leave no question unanswered


Receiving a cancer diagnosis is scary and comes with more questions than you can keep track of. But it’s up to you and your family to be informed and educated about cancer and your options. We’re here to help. Take these questions to ask your oncologist checklist — add any questions of your own — to take to your or your loved one’s next doctor’s visit so no question goes unanswered.

General Questions

  • What is the name of my cancer?
  • Which part of my body is affected?


  • Why do I need these tests?
  • What will you learn from this test?
  • How accurate is this test?
  • Is there any risk to the test?
  • Will the result of this test make any difference to the treatment you provide?
  • What are the results of the test I already had?


  • What treatments are available for my type of cancer?
  • What treatments do you recommend?
  • How long will the treatment last?
  • What are the possible side effects of the treatment?
  • Can the side effects be prevented or controlled?
  • Are the side effects temporary or permanent?
  • How is the treatment given?
  • How does the treatment work?
  • Will I receive treatment as an outpatient or be admitted to the hospital?
  • How much will the treatment cost?
  • What if this treatment does not work?

Clinical Trials

  • Would a clinical trial or investigational treatment be appropriate for me?
  • What benefit is there for me?
  • What are the risks for me?
  • Why are these studies important?
  • What are the goals of the study?
  • Do I have the right to refuse?
  • Can I withdraw from the clinical trial anytime?


Need a second opinion? Consider contacting a doctor at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center for another view about your treatment options.

Living with Cancer

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