Questions you should ask your oncologist - Evewoman
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Questions you should ask your oncologist

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Visits to the doctor can be awkward and embarrassing to say the least.

For this reason, it doesn’t hurt to have a clue about the subject matter and how you want it approached. The more knowledge you have about the matter the easier and shorter your appointment will be. Plus you will be able to steer the conversation to the direction you want it to go.

Before we get down to it, you need to understand the different types of oncologists out there and what they do. This will help you know the right doctor to consult.

Oncology refers to a branch of medicine which deals with the prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of cancer. The medical practitioner that practices oncology is known as an oncologist. The oncologist is responsible for treating cancer and offers medical care for an individual diagnosed with cancer.

Types of Oncologists

i. Surgical oncologist

He or she is responsible for removing tumours and nearby tissues during a surgical procedure and is also tasked with performing other types of biopsies that help in the diagnosis of cancer.

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ii. Medical oncologist

This one is responsible for treating cancer through the use of chemotherapy or other medications such as immunotherapy or targeted therapy.

iii. Gynaecologic oncologist

As the name says, he or she is responsible for the treatment of gynaecologic cancers such as ovarian, uterine and cervical cancers.

iv. Radiation oncologist

He or she is responsible for the treatment of cancer through the use of radiation therapy.

v. Haematologist-oncologist

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They are the doctors responsible for diagnosing and treating blood cancers such as lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma.

vi. Paediatric oncologist

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This is a doctor responsible for the treatment of cancer in children. There are certain types of cancer that often occur in children and teenagers that include leukaemia, brain tumours, Ewing’s sarcoma and osteosarcoma.

Now that you have a rough idea on who does what, it is important to know what to ask each doctor in his area of expertise.

A surgical oncologist:

i. Why are you recommending surgery?

ii. What are the outcomes and how does it work?

iii. How should I prepare for the entire procedure?

iv. What will happen procedurally?

v. How long am I expected to stay in the hospital?

vi. What support will you give me during and after the procedure?

vii. What are the costs involved?

viii. How long will I take to recover?

ix. What complications should I expect?

x. When can I fully recover?

A medical oncologist:

i. Considering my current state, what are the risks?

ii. What is the best therapy for my condition?

iii. Why are you recommending this type of therapy?

iv. Where do I go for hormone therapy or chemotherapy?

v. How long will the treatment last?

vi. What are the other treatment options for cancer?

vii. Where is the focus of chemotherapy, and will I need to take anti-nausea medications?

viii. Will chemotherapy make my hair to fall and when I’m through with treatment will it grow back?

ix. Should I adjust my diet or lifestyle during the treatment process?

A gynaecologic oncologist:

i. What type of ovarian cancer do I have?

ii. What type of doctor should I consult?

iii. Where do I attend care?

iv. What is my treatment plan?

v. Am I required to have chemotherapy?

vi. Are clinical trials essential part of the treatment?

A radiation oncologist:

i. What treatment option do you recommend?

ii. What are the benefits and side effects of radiation therapy?

iii. What type of radiation therapy do you recommend for my condition?

iv. Where should I attend for my appointments?

v. How many treatment sessions should I have and how long does each session last?

vi. What are the side effects of my treatment?

vii. How should I manage skin irritation associated with the entire process?

A hematologist oncologist:

i. Judging from my symptoms, what is the best diagnosis?

ii. What is the best treatment for my condition?

iii. What should I avoid?

iv. What are the side effects?

v. What is the treatment cost? Will my insurance cover the cost?

vi. Will I be able to go for work or travel?

vii. What should I expect in the follow-up appointments?

A paediatric oncologist:

i. What are the necessary treatment options?

ii. How severe is the cancer condition?

iii. What are the possible treatment plan and options?

iv. What is the cost?

v. How do you deliver compassionate and quality care?

vi. What is the goal of the cancer treatment?

vii. How long will the treatment take?

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