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.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
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