Tips for Talking to Your Doctor About Renal Cell Carcinoma

Make the most of your appointments after a kidney cancer diagnosis.

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After a diagnosis of kidney cancer, you’re going to have a lot of questions and hear a lot of information. You might hear words that are unfamiliar to you, or be asked to make decisions about things you don’t fully understand. This can certainly be overwhelming.

It’s important to remember that your doctor is there to help guide you through it one day at a time. If you don’t understand something, it’s your doctor’s job to help. However, this does mean you may need to speak up or be an advocate for yourself to make sure your questions are heard, and you get the answers you need.

To make the most of your appointments and have productive conversations with your doctor—which may ultimately improve your cancer journey—here are tips for talking to your doctor about kidney cancer.

1. Take someone with you when you go to the doctor

“Bring in people you trust. The more people involved in the discussion, the more perspective you're gonna have,” says Joseph Pazona, MD, urologist.

Your friend or family member can act as a second set of ears, which can be really helpful when you’re receiving a lot of overwhelming—and potentially intimidating—information. It can be hard to remember all the details on your own.

2. Write everything your doctor tells you or record your conversation

“We don't remember very much when we hear it verbally, but if we write things down, we're more likely to remember them,” says Dr. Pazona. “It's more likely to cause us to think of questions in the future.”

Alternatively, have your friend or family member take notes during the conversation, or ask your doctor if it’s okay if you record the conversation to listen to later.

It may also help to write down your questions beforehand so you don’t forget them once you’re face to face with your doctor. Here are suggestions for questions to ask your doctor about kidney cancer.

3. Get a second opinion

“Meet with as many people as you need to to make sure you have clarity about your situation,” says Dr. Pazona, “because you’re if you’re confused and not engaged in your healthcare decisions, then you’re more likely to continue to be scared and anxious.”

Getting a second opinion typically means seeing additional doctors and specialists, but it may also include researching on trusted websites, such as the National Institute of Cancer or the American Cancer Society.

“If you don’t understand something, if you’re not comfortable with your doctor, let us know, or go find a doctor who you are comfortable with,” says Dr. Pazona. “Don’t ever settle when it comes to your health because there’s nothing more important.”