Talking to your doctor

To get the most out of your visit to your doctor:

  • request a longer appointment if you have a number of issues to discuss
  • prepare your questions beforehand
  • take a friend or relative for support, or to write down answers to your questions if possible
  • ask your doctor to explain again, if you don’t understand the answers
  • ask your doctor to give you a written summary of your treatment plan
  • ask for an interpreter if you have difficulty communicating in English (contact the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50)

General questions

  • What is the name of my cancer or condition?
  • Is it slow or fast growing?
  • Which part or parts of my body are affected?
  • Is it possible to cure or control my cancer?

Questions about tests

  •  What will this test involve?
  • What information will you get?
  • What are the benefits and risks to me in having this test?
  • Will the results of this test make any difference to the decision on what type of treatment I have?

Questions about treatment

  • What is the aim of each treatment? Is it to cure, control, prevent spread, prevent recurrence or relieve symptoms?
  • What difference will this treatment make to my quality of life eg. can I work, have sex?
  • What are the possible side-effects of treatment? Can they be prevented or controlled? Are they temporary or permanent?
  • What if this treatment does not work?
  • Are there any complementary therapies that I can have?
  • I would like a couple of weeks to make a decision. Will that make any difference?
  • Who are the members of my treatment team?
  • Are there any clinical trials suitable for me?

If your cancer is advanced

  • What treatments are available to relieve my symptoms?
  • Who will be responsible for my medical care?
  • What help can my family and/or friends get if they care for me at home?
  • How can I access palliative care?

Questions about clinical trials (research studies)

During the course of your treatment you may be asked if you would like to take part in a clinical trial. Questions to ask include:

  • What would I have to do as part of the clinical trial?
  • What are the possible side-effects?
  • What are the benefits and risks for me?
  • Do I have the right to refuse?
  • Can I withdraw from the clinical trial at anytime?
  • Are these studies important for me or others?