Colorectal Cancer: Questions to Ask


The following are some questions you may want to ask your physician:

  • What do you know about my cancer at this point?
  • What other tests will be run before surgery?
  • Can you describe the surgery I will be having?
  • What are you planning to remove during surgery (the colon, rectum, lymph nodes)?
  • Is a biopsy part of the surgery?
  • How soon after surgery will I have all test results and a firm diagnosis?
  • Do you think after surgery I will have all test results and a firm diagnosis?
  • Do you think I may need a temporary or permanent colostomy?
  • Is this the standard type of surgery for my condition?
  • How many times have you performed this type of operation successfully?
  • Who will give me information about how I should get ready for surgery and a hospital stay?
  • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • How will my pain be controlled after surgery?
  • Should I have radiation therapy and chemotherapy before my rectal cancer surgery?
  • What is my diagnosis based on the results of surgery and biopsy reports?
  • How long will it be before I can go back to work after surgery? Can I work during chemotherapy?
  • Will you refer me to a specially trained nurse to decide on the best place for my colostomy and help me learn to manage it after surgery?
  • What is my prognosis?
  • What are my treatment options based on my diagnosis?
  • Is it a standard treatment or part of a clinical trial?
  • What treatment do you recommend? Why?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects?
  • Does my diagnosis mean that my blood relatives are at higher risk for colorectal cancer?
  • Should they talk with their doctors about screening?