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Pineal Tumors (cont.)

Questions to Ask the Doctor

It's natural for the patient and family members to have many questions throughout the person's diagnosis and treatment. A diagnosis of a brain tumor can be overwhelming - and frightening. That's why it might help to write down questions and bring them to the doctor appointments. As the doctor answers questions, take notes or have a family member accompany the patient and take notes. The more the patient and family members know and understand about each aspect of care, the better.

The patient also might find it helpful to share their feelings with others in similar situations. Check to see if local support groups for people with brain tumors and their families are available in your area. Hospitals often sponsor these groups. Doctors and nurses also may be able to make recommendations on where to find the emotional support the patient and family might need.

Below is a sampling of the types of questions to ask the physician in different stages of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Before undergoing a biopsy:

  • How long will it take? Will I be awake? Will it hurt?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital?
  • How soon will I know the results?
  • If I do have cancer, who will talk with me about treatment? When?

After diagnosis

  • Is this a cancer? If so, will you write down the medical name for it? Are there other names for this same cancer?
  • What is the difference between a benign and a malignant tumor?
  • What stage and grade is my cancer?
  • What are the treatment choices? Which do you recommend? Why? What is your experience in treating this type of cancer?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
  • What are the chances that the treatment will be successful?
  • What new treatments are being studied in clinical trials? Would a clinical trial be appropriate?
  • Will you send my records to another physician if I decide to get a second opinion?

Before treatment begins

  • What is the goal of this treatment?
  • When will the treatments begin? When will they end? Will I have to stay in the hospital?
  • How will I feel during therapy? What are the possible side effects?
  • How will you manage the side effects?
  • If I have pain, how will you manage it?
  • What is the treatment likely to cost?
  • What can I do to take care of myself during therapy?
  • What effect will cancer/cancer therapies have on my eating habits? Are there any foods I should avoid? Are there any foods I could benefit from eating?
  • How will I know if the therapy is working?
  • Will I be able to continue my normal activities during treatment?
  • Whom should I contact if I have a question or problem, especially after office hours?

What are specific treatment options for:

If cancer is in remission and/or after you have completed cancer treatment

  • How likely is a recurrence of the cancer? (for example, will the cancer come back?)
  • How often will you see me and for how long?
  • Will I be able to lead a "normal life?"
  • What kind of ongoing health needs will I have?
  • Are there long term side effects of the treatment or disease that may occur?
  • How often do they occur? When are they most likely to occur?
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/30/2014

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