Being informed can empower you to be an active member of your treatment.
If you’ve been diagnosed with kidney cancer, your doctor or oncologist can be a very helpful resource for you. They aren’t just treating you: They can help you understand your diagnosis, what your treatment options are, what treatment side effects to expect, and where you can find counseling or psychological support.
“You should view your health care as a partnership. We’re here for you, and that starts with trust and open communication,” says Joseph Pazona, MD, urologist in Nashville, TN.
Different types of cancer are treated in different ways. Not only will your doctor consider your exact diagnosis, but they may also take into account your age, your medical history, and even your personal preference—which is why it’s important for you to understand your diagnosis and your options.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of suggested questions to ask your doctor to better understand your diagnosis and treatment options:
What type of kidney cancer do I have?
Where is the cancer located?
What stage is my kidney cancer? What does that mean for me?
Will I need any other tests before we can decide on a treatment?
Do I need to see any other doctors or health professionals?
Should I get another opinion?
What are my treatment options?
Who is a part of my cancer treatment team?
Consider writing down these questions before your appointment so you have them with you. It’s easy to get overwhelmed during appointments and forget everything you were going to say or ask, so this helps. It may also be a good idea to take notes of your doctor’s answers, or record the conversation.
“There’s no such thing as a silly or embarrassing question,” says Dr. Pazona. “Hopefully we’ve established some trust and you can tell me anything, and if you don’t feel that way with your doctor, maybe that doctor’s not your best fit.”
If you have kidney cancer. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2020. (Accessed on May 14, 2020 at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/if-you-have-kidney-cancer.html.)
Questions to ask about kidney cancer. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2020. (Accessed on May 14, 2020 at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/kidney-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/talking-with-doctor.html.)
Talking with your health care team. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. (Accessed on May 14, 2020 at https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/adjusting-to-cancer/talk-with-doctors.)