Talking with healthcare providers about 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 take it 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 feel during and after treatment. Ask how well the treatment is expected to work, and what the risks and possible side effects are.
You may also want to ask a friend or family member to go with you. They can take notes, write down the answers to your questions, and also ask questions you may not think of.
Here are some questions you may want to ask. Not all of these might apply to you. But asking the questions that do can help you get a better idea of what to expect.
Where is the cancer?
Has it spread from where it started?
Do I need any more tests before we decide on treatment?
Does my myeloma need to be treated right away?
What are my treatment options?
What treatment do you think is best for me? Why?
What are the goals of treatment?
What's the success rate of this treatment for my stage of cancer?
Should we consider a stem cell transplant?
What's the average life expectancy for someone with my stage of cancer getting treatment?
Do my age, overall health, and other factors affect my options?
Can I stop treatment? What will happen if I don't get treated?
How much experience do you have treating multiple myeloma?
Should I get a second opinion?
Are there any clinical trials I should look into?
Will my insurance cover treatment? How much will I have to pay?
Will treatment affect my ability to have children in the future? If so, what are my options for fertility preservation?
What can I do to get ready for treatment?
How soon do I need to start treatment?
What will treatment be like?
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 go with me during treatments?
Can I take my other medicines during treatment?
How long will I be in treatment?
Can I bring someone with me to treatment?
Do I need someone to drive me home?
Will I be able to drive or take public transportation?
What can I bring with me to treatment?
Do you have someone on staff who can help me with financial questions, transportation, and other resources?
How will we know if treatment is working? Do I need tests during treatment to check?
How will I feel during and after treatment?
Will I be able to do my normal activities and be around my family during treatment?
What side effects should I watch for?
How long will side effects last?
Will there be side effects I need to call you about?
How do I contact you? What number do I call? After office hours? On weekends and holidays?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
Should I change my diet? Are there any foods I shouldn't eat?
Do I need to limit any activities? Can I work during treatment?
Are there support groups nearby or online that I can join?
What emotional and psychological support is available for me or family and friends taking care of me?
How will I feel after treatment? Are there long term or permanent side effects?
What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
How will we know if treatment worked after treatment ends?
What are my options if the treatment doesn't work or the cancer comes back?
Who will be in charge of my care after treatment ends?
How can I get a copy of the treatment summary and a follow-up care plan (survivorship care plan)?
When you have answers from your healthcare provider, it’s time to think about your preferences. Think about what side effects you can and can’t tolerate. Talk about all of your concerns with your healthcare provider before making a decision about treatment. You may also want to get a second opinion along with input from family and friends.