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

  • 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?

Treatment choice

  • 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?

The 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?

Side effects and recovery

  • 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?

Before leaving hospital

  • 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?

    — Kathleen


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This information was last reviewed in April 2019
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