Cervical Cancer Doctor Questions

Talking to Your Doctor

After being diagnosed with cervical cancer, it may take some time to process the news and begin to form questions for your doctor. But in order to make sure you’re getting the best treatment available, you need to stay informed. Learn as much as you can about the disease and don’t be afraid to bombard your doctor with any questions you may have.

Pre-Diagnosis

Many women have questions about cervical cancer in general, so don’t be afraid to talk to your gynecologist, even if you don’t have cervical cancer. Some questions your doctor can help you with include:

  • How often should I be screened for cervical cancer?
  • Does an abnormal Pap smear mean I have cervical cancer?
  • Am I at risk for cervical cancer, and if so is there anything I can do to lower that risk?
  • Should I stop taking birth control pills? If I do, what should I use for contraception?

When You’re First Diagnosed

Some of the most important information you need to learn about will arise immediately after your diagnosis. To that end, here are the most important questions you should ask:

  • What stage of cervical cancer do I have?
    The stages of cervical cancer range from 0 to IV, and these indicate how far advanced the cancer is and whether it has spread. The stage will affect the types of treatment available to you, so it’s crucial to know which stage you’re in.
  • What treatment do you recommend?
    Treatment can involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of all three. It’s important to know about the options available to you as well as the doctor’s recommendations.
  • What are the risks and benefits of the treatment?
    In order to make an informed decision, you should know any potential risks involved, but also the benefits, as you may need to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks.
  • How will my treatment affect me?
    In order to be prepared as best you can, you need to know how any treatment will affect your daily life.
  • What if the treatment doesn’t work?
    Unfortunately this is a possibility, and you need to know what will happen if the initial course of treatment is unsuccessful.
  • Will my insurance cover this treatment?
    Treatment can be costly, so it’s important to find out what treatment your insurance will cover. You can call your insurance company directly to find out this information or talk to the hospital financial services department for assistance. A social worker may also be able to help you.
  • When will treatment begin?
    You need to prepare for the start of any treatment program, so it’s important to know how much time you have before treatment needs to begin. This will depend on how far advanced the cancer is.

Also feel free to ask detailed questions about the type of chemotherapy available, how long treatment may last, the chances of surgery removing all of the cancer, possible risks and benefits of clinical trials and the differences between radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Never feel like you’re pestering your doctor. You have a right to know.

A Second Opinion

Not only do you have every right to seek a second opinion, some insurance companies actually require it before they will pay for any treatment. Therefore, do not be afraid you will offend your doctor or get a lower level of care. Getting a second opinion is common practice and doctors expect it, especially when it comes to serious diseases such as cancer.

To handle it politely, inform your first doctor that you want to seek a second opinion. You can do this in a courteous way, and your doctor’s office should provide you with copies of your medical records to show to the second doctor. This will also prevent the necessity of having medical tests repeated and can save you money on that second visit. Also, since pathology samples may be destroyed after the first lab runs their tests, telling your first doctor in advance means they can save those samples and send them to the second lab of your choosing.

Even if your insurance company doesn’t require a second opinion, they will most likely still cover one. Just be sure to call and ask first if you have any doubts. However, even if they don’t cover the visit, it may be worth getting that second opinion anyway to lower your odds of receiving a misdiagnosis.

You may also want to consult a specialist for your second opinion. The specialist may know of newer treatment options or alternative therapies of which the initial doctor was not aware.

Additional Questions for Your Doctor

Once the primary questions have been answered to your satisfaction, here is some additional information you may want to discuss with your doctor:

  • How do you confirm a cervical cancer diagnosis?
    This may be more for a second opinion, but it can also be posed to the initial doctor.
  • Will my treatment affect my chances of becoming pregnant in the future?
    This is a possibility with some treatment, so if you want to have children this is important to find out now.
  • Am I at risk for secondary cancer after having cervical cancer?
  • Should I tell my daughters or sisters to get screened for cervical cancer since I’ve been diagnosed?
  • If the treatment works, how often will I need to be screened in the future?
  • Can you recommend a support group?

Resources

Fayed, Lisa. (June 25, 2007). Questions to Ask Your Doctor After Being Diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. Retrieved July 2, 2007, from the About.com Web site: http://cancer.about.com/od/cervicalcancerbasics/tp/questionscc.htm.

iVillage (n.d.). Cervical Cancer: Questions to Ask Your Doctor. Retrieved July 2, 2007, from the iVillage Web site: http://health.ivillage.com/gynecologiccancer/cc/0,,hco_95zkzsh4,00.html.

Oncology Channel (n.d.). Questions to Ask Your Doctor. Retrieved July 2, 2007, from the Oncology Channel Web site: http://www.oncologychannel.com/questions.shtml.