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Talking to Your Doctor About Pancreatic Cancer
General Tips for Gathering Information
- Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
- Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
- Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- Do I have any specific risk factors for pancreatic cancer?
- Are there any risk factors that I can change?
- Are my children at risk and when do they need to be screened?
- What exactly is pancreatic cancer?
- What parts of the body are involved?
- What makes you think I might have pancreatic cancer?
- How can we determine whether or not I have this condition?
- Could you explain the tests I need?
- How accurate are the test results?
- If I have pancreatic cancer, what kind of lifespan do you think I may have?
- Do the tests tell you about my prognosis or predict cancer relapse?
- What kinds of treatments are appropriate for me?
- Will I need more than one type of treatment?
- How long will my treatments last?
- What are the potential side effects or complications?
- What is the chance that the recommended treatments will cure my pancreatic cancer?
- How will we know whether the treatments have been effective or not?
- While I’m receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer, will I be able to participate in my usual activities?
- Can you help me weigh the benefits of the treatments versus the effect they may have on my quality of life?
- What kinds of lifestyle changes can I make to avoid developing pancreatic cancer?
- If I’ve already been diagnosed with this condition, what kinds of lifestyle changes should I make? What would make me stronger and more comfortable as I go through treatments?
- Can you recommend a support group?
- How extensive is my cancer?
- Has the cancer progressed to other parts of my body?
- What kind of prognosis does my kind of pancreatic cancer have?
- How do my other medical conditions affect my prognosis?
- Once I’ve completed treatments, what will we do to monitor whether the cancer returns?
Detailed guide: pancreatic cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/ . Accessed April 8, 2009.
DiMagno E. Pancreatic carcinoma. In: Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2000: 750-752.
Freelove R, Walling AD. Pancreatic cancer: diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2006;73:485-492.
Lohr JM. Medical treatment of pancreatic cancer. Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2007;7:533-544.
What you need to know about cancer of the pancreas. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/pancreas#2 . Accessed April 8, 2009.
Yip D, Karapetis C, Strickland A, et al. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy for inoperable advanced pancreatic cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;3:CD002093.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 09/30/2013