Questions about surgery
Below are some questions about surgery to ask your doctor to learn more about it as a treatment option. If you don’t understand your doctor’s answers, ask for clarification. Asking your doctor questions will help you make an informed choice.
Learn about questions on:
- Information about the surgeon
- Treatment choice
- The surgery
- Side effects and recovery
- Before leaving the hospital
- Do you work in a multidisciplinary team (MDT)?
- Do you specialise in this type of surgery? How were you trained?
- How many times have you done this surgery?
- Which hospitals do you operate in?
- Why do I need surgery?
- Do I have a choice of treatments?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of surgery for me?
- How successful is this type of surgery for this type of cancer?
- Are there any clinical practice guidelines on how to treat this type of cancer?
- How much does the surgery cost? Are there any extra costs I should know about, such as costs related to anaesthesia?
- Can I talk to someone who has had this surgery?
- Can I get a second opinion?
- Will I need other treatment before or after surgery?
- What type of surgery will I have, e.g. open surgery or keyhole surgery?
- What exactly will you do during the operation? Will you remove part of the tumour or all of the cancer?
- How long will the surgery take?
- Could your plans to operate on me change? Why?
- What anaesthetic will I receive? How will it be given?
- When will I meet the anaesthetist?
- What are the potential risks and complications?
- Will I need a blood transfusion?
- Where will I have the surgery?
- What are the effects of the surgery (e.g. will it affect my mobility, diet, ability to work, fertility, sex life)? What are the long-term effects?
- Will I have tubes and drains?
- Will I have any pain? How will it be managed?
- How long will I be in hospital?
- Will I need rehabilitation? Will I have it as an inpatient or outpatient?
- When I go home, will I be provided with written information about my after-care?
- What kind of support is available to people who have this type of surgery?
- Will the stitches need to be taken out or will they dissolve?
- Will the wound dressing need to be changed? Who will do this?
- Can I eat my usual diet?
- What problems should I look out for when I go home?
- Who should I call if I have a problem?
- How often will I need check-ups?
- Can I have a shower or bath?
- When do I need to see my surgeon for a follow-up?
- When can I go back to work? Can I do my usual activities (e.g. exercise, housework, driving)?
- What medicines do I need to take?
Before the surgery, my doctor discussed the complications that could occur afterwards. It was full‑on hearing about it, but I wanted to know everything that could happen.
Prof Andrew Spillane, Surgical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute of Australia, and Professor of Surgical Oncology, The University of Sydney Northern Clinical School, NSW; Lynne Hendrick, Consumer; Judy Holland, Physiotherapist, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Kara Hutchinson, Cancer Nurse Coordinator, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, VIC; A/Prof Declan Murphy, Urologist and Director of Genitourinary Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Prof Stephan Schug, Director of Pain Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, and Chair of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine, The University of Western Australia Medical School, WA; Dr Emma Secomb, Specialist Surgeon, Hinterland Surgical Centre, QLD. We would like to thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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