Tips for Talking With Your Doctor

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An important part of good health care is a good relationship between you and your doctor. You must be able to communicate well with each other so your needs are met.

At Dana-Farber, doctors from different specialties, as well as experts in nutrition and other supportive services, may be involved in your care. However, it's a good idea for one doctor to be your main source of information.

Ask Yourself, "How much do I want to know?"

Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor how much, or how little, information you want. You might be an “information junkie” who wants all the facts. Or you may prefer a general overview with simple directions – what pill to take, what treatment you’ll have, and when you’ll be done.

Asking Questions

Here are some basic questions your doctor can answer for you:

  • What's wrong with me?
  • What treatment do you recommend?
  • Are there other treatments?
  • What are the benefits of these treatments?
  • What are the risks?
  • What medicines are you giving me? What are they for?
  • How should I expect to feel during treatment?
  • What side effects, if any, can I expect to have?

Here are some additional questions you may want to ask:

  • Who else receives information about me? Are my records shared?
  • Will the disease or the treatment keep me from working or caring for my family?
  • Will I have any physical limitations?

If you have persistent low or hopeless feelings, mention this to your doctor. You may need help for clinical depression, a treatable illness that can occur along with cancer.