Esophageal Cancer: Treatment Questions
Talking with healthcare providers about your cancer can be overwhelming. It can be hard to take in all of the information. It helps to be prepared. Make a list of questions and bring them to your appointments. Write the answers down. Make sure you ask how the treatment might change your daily life, including your diet, and how you will look and feel after treatment. Ask how successful the treatment is expected to be, and what the risks and possible side effects are.
You may want to ask a friend or family member to go with you. He or she can take notes and write down the answers, and also ask questions you may not think of. You can also ask your healthcare provider if you can record the conversation.
Below are some questions to ask during your appointments. Not all of these might apply to your situation. But asking the questions that do apply can help you get a better idea of what to expect.
Deciding on a treatment
Where is my cancer? Has it spread beyond where it started?
Do I need any more tests before we decide on treatment?
What are my treatment options?
Will I be able to eat during treatment? What will we do if I can't?
What treatment do you think is best for me? Why?
What are the goals of treatment?
What is the success rate of this treatment for my type and stage of cancer?
What are the chances that the cancer will come back after treatment?
What is the average life expectancy for someone with my stage of cancer getting treatment?
How much experience do you have treating cancers like mine?
Should I get a second opinion?
Are there any clinical trials I should look into?
Getting ready for treatment
How soon do I need to start treatment?
How long will each treatment take?
Where do I have to go for the treatment?
Who will give me the treatment?
Does someone need to be with me during treatments?
Can I drive myself to treatment?
Can I take my other medicines during treatment?
How long will I be in treatment?
Will my insurance cover treatment? How much will I have to pay?
Coping during treatment
How will I feel during and after the treatment?
Are there any limits on what I can do?
Will I be able to go to work and be around my family during treatment?
What side effects can I expect?
How long will side effects last?
Will there be side effects I need to call you about?
How do I reach you at night? On weekends? Holidays?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
Should I change my diet? Are there any foods I shouldn’t eat?
Are there support groups nearby that I can join?
How will I feel after the treatment?
What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
Do I need to follow a special diet?
Will I need any type of rehabilitation therapy after treatment?
How will we know if treatment worked?
How will I know if the cancer comes back? What should I watch for?
What are my options if the treatment doesn't work or the cancer comes back?
Making a decision
When you have answers from your healthcare provider, it’s time to think about your preferences. Think about what side effects and long-term changes you can and can’t tolerate. Talk about all of your concerns with your healthcare team before making a decision about treatment.