Talking with healthcare providers about cancer can be overwhelming. It can be hard to take in all the information. It helps to be prepared. Make a list of questions and bring them to your appointments. Write down the answers. Make sure you ask how the treatment will change your daily life, including your diet, and how you will look and feel after treatment. Ask how successful the treatment is expected to be, and what the risks and possible side effects are. You may also want to ask a friend or family member to go with you. They can take notes and write down the answers, and also ask questions you may not think of. You can also ask your healthcare provider if you can record the conversation.
Deciding on a treatment
What kind of thyroid cancer do I have?
What is the grade and stage of my cancer?
Has the cancer spread anywhere else in my body?
What are my treatment choices?
What is the cost of these treatments and are they covered by my insurance? If they are not covered by insurance, are there patient support programs that I might qualify for?
What treatment do you think is best for me?
What are the goals of the treatment you are recommending?
What is the success rate of this treatment for my type and stage of thyroid cancer?
Will treatment change the way I look?
Will I be able to have children after treatment?
What is the life expectancy for someone with my stage of cancer receiving this treatment?
Are there any clinical trials that I should consider?
How soon do I need to start treatment?
Getting ready for treatment
What is the length of the treatment period?
How long will each treatment take?
Where do I have to go for the treatment?
Who will give me the treatment?
Does someone need to go with me for treatments?
Can I take my other medicines during treatment?
What can I do to be ready for treatment?
Coping during treatment
What side effects should I expect?
How long will side effects last?
Are there side effects that I need to call you about?
How do I reach you after hours and on weekends?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
Should I change my diet? What foods can’t I eat?
Are there any limits on what I can do? Should I exercise?
Will I be able to go to work and be around my family?
Is there a support group nearby that I can join?
How will I feel after the treatment?
What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
Will I need to take thyroid hormones after treatment?
How will we know if treatment worked?
What long-term side effects should I watch for?
What kinds of symptoms or problems should I watch out for?
What are my options if the treatment doesn’t work or the cancer comes back?
Making a decision
When you have answers from your healthcare provider, it’s time to think about your preferences. Think about what side effects you can and can’t tolerate. Talk about all your concerns with your healthcare provider before making a decision about treatment.