Talking with doctors

Before you see the doctor, it may help to write down your questions. We suggest you have a support person with you at your appointment with the cancer doctor.

"I wasn't ready to hear much and I'd let them know when I wanted more information." Syd

A second opinion

You may want to ask another doctor about your cancer or treatment. You can ask your cancer doctor or general practitioner (GP) to refer you to another cancer doctor. You are entitled to a second opinion if you want one.

Questions you may wish to ask

When you hear you have lung cancer you and your family/whānau may feel understandably frightened and you may have many questions. Having your questions answered can help you feel in control of your situation. Here is a list of questions to help you make the most of your time with your doctor.

Let your doctor know if there are things you do not want to be told.

  1. What type of lung cancer do I have?
  2. How far has my cancer spread? What stage is it?
  3. What scans do I need?
  4. What treatment do you advise for my cancer and why?
  5. Are there other treatment choices for me?
  6. What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
  7. Will I have to stay in hospital, or will I be treated as an outpatient?
  8. How long will the treatment take?
  9. How much will it affect what I can do?
  10. How much will the treatment cost?
  11. If I need further treatment, what will it be like and when will it begin?
  12. How often will my check-ups be and what will they involve?
  13. Are there any problems I should watch out for?
  14. If I choose not to have treatment either now or in the future, what services are available to help me?
  15. When can I return to work?
  16. When can I drive again?
  17. Will the treatment affect my sexual relationships?
  18. I would like to have a second opinion. Can you refer me to someone else?
  19. Is my cancer hereditary (passed on by my parents)?
  20. Is the treatment attempting to cure the disease or not?
  21. What is my prognosis (future outlook)? Many people do not wish to know this if it's likely to be bad news.

If there are answers you do not understand, feel comfortable saying:

  • "Can you explain that again?"
  • "I am not sure what you mean" or
  • "Could you draw a diagram or write it down?"

The Society has a booklet titled Questions You May Wish To Ask available that has general questions and spaces in which you or your doctor can write answers.

Call your local Cancer Society to receive a copy, call the nurses on the Cancer Information Helpline 0800 CANCER (226 237) or view the booklet on the Society's website.

Following a cancer diagnosis, many people look for information about new types of treatment, the latest research findings and stories about how other people have coped. Contact your Cancer Society library or local library for some good quality resources.