Questions for your doctor

Below are some questions to ask your doctor to learn about bowel cancer, and your care and treatment options. If your doctor gives you answers that you don’t understand, ask for clarification.

You may not remember the details about what you are told. Taking notes or recording the discussion may help. Many people like to have a family member or friend go with them to take part in the discussion, take notes or simply listen.

Here is a list of suggested questions for your doctor:

  • What type of bowel cancer do I have?
  • Where in the bowel is the cancer?
  • Has the cancer spread? How fast is it growing?
  • What treatment do you recommend and why?
  • Are there other treatment choices for me? If not, why not?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
  • Will I need a stoma? If so, will it be temporary or permanent? Will you refer me to a stomal therapy nurse?
  • How long will treatment take? Will I have to stay in hospital?
  • How much will treatment cost? How can the cost be reduced?
  • Will I have a lot of pain with the treatment? What will be done about this?
  • Are the latest tests and treatments for this type of cancer available in this hospital?
  • Are there any clinical trials or research studies I could join?
  • How frequently will I need check-ups after treatment?
  • Are there any complementary therapies that might help me?
  • Should I change my diet during or after treatment?
  • If the cancer comes back, how will I know?

This information was last reviewed in February 2017
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