For the majority of us, the word “cancer” is probably the scariest word to come out of a doctor’s mouth, except for perhaps “malignant”. Fortunately, thanks to advances in medical science and research in the past 30 years, many forms of cancer can be successfully treated.
While research obviously needs to continue to further reduce cancer-related illnesses and deaths, Empowher is here to empower you with the knowledge to ensure you get the best possible treatment and care for your particular situation.
One of the methods of verifying the presence and stage of cancer is through a biopsy. If your doctor is recommending a biopsy, be sure to ask the following questions.
Knowing these details will make a stressful time a little more “manageable” in the sense that you will know what is going on and when to expect answers (from National Cancer Institute).
1) How will the biopsy results affect my treatment plan?
2) What kind of biopsy will I have?
3) How long will it take? Will I be awake? Will it hurt?
4) Is there a risk that the needled biopsy procedure will cause the cancer to spread? Will there be any short-term or long-term side effects from the procedure?
If so, what do I do or who do I contact?
5) How soon will I know the results? How do I get a copy of the pathology report?
6) Who will call me about the results? If I do have cancer, who will talk to regarding treatment? When?
Liver Cancer Checklist
If you’re being investigated for liver cancer and/or are at the stage where you the presence of cancer has been confirmed and you’re trying to decide on treatment, make sure you have the below checklist with you (from National Cancer Institute and National Comprehensive Cancer Network).
1) At what stage is my cancer? Has the liver cancer spread?
2) Do I have cirrhosis or another liver disease as well? How will that affect my treatment options?
3) Do I need any more tests to determine whether I can have surgery?
4) What is the goal of treatment: Will it be to cure or reduce the progress of the disease? What are my treatment choices? Which do you recommend for me? Why?
In what order will these treatments be done? How long with the entire treatment plan take?
5) What are the expected benefits of treatment?
6) What are the risks and possible short-term and long-term side effects of each treatment? How can side effects be managed? Will any of the side effects be permanent?
7) Will I need to stay in the hospital? If so, for how long?
8) Do you use the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology or another recognized set of practice guidelines?
What do those guidelines involve and how do you monitor that they’re followed?
9) How will you treat my pain?
10) What will the treatment cost? Will my insurance cover it?
11) How will treatment affect my normal activities?
12) Would a clinical trial (research study) be appropriate for me?
13) How often will I need checkups?
14) Can you recommend other doctors who could give me a second opinion about my treatment options?
15) Would transitory or outpatient care be possible or an option for managing symptoms and care at home in between treatments?
16) Are there any local or online support groups I should be connected with?
What you Need to Know about Liver Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Web. Oct 6, 2011.
Liver Cancer Treatment Checklist. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Web. Oct 6, 2011.
Reviewed October 7, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg
Edited by Jody Smith