Helpful Questions To Ask Your Care Team

How well you and your care team talk to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. Unfortunately, talking to your doctor or nurse isn’t always easy. It takes time and effort on both parts. Good communication improves the quality of care that you receive. Good communication consists of giving information as well as getting information.

When talking with your doctor or another member of the care team, ask specific questions regarding any concerns you may have about your treatment.

Here are Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What stage of cancer do I have? What does that mean?
  • How do I get a copy of my diagnosis?
  • What medical records should I bring to treatment?
  • What are my treatment choices? Which do you recommend for me? Why?
  • Should I get a second opinion?
  • What are the expected benefits of each kind of treatment?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment? What can be done to control the side effects?
  • Will I have more than one kind of treatment? How will my treatment change over time?
  • How long is it going to take for me to recover from treatment?
  • Will I be able to work or go to school while I’m being treated?
  • What are the chances of the cancer coming back?
  • How long will the treatment take?
  • What can I do to prepare for treatment?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital? If so, for how long?
  • Can I go to and from treatment alone? Should someone else go along with me?
  • Can a family member be with me during treatment?
  • What can be done to help me feel more comfortable during treatment?
  • How will treatment affect my normal activities?
  • Would a clinical trial be right for me? Can you help me find one?
  • How often should I have checkups during treatment?
  • What kind of support do you have for me and my family?
  • After treatment, what problems should be watched for? If I have questions during my treatment and my doctor is not available, who I can ask? For example, is a nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant, nurse or social worker available?
  • What is the treatment likely to cost? Will my insurance cover the cost?

Meet Your Care Team

Partnering with you and your family will be our staff of highly qualified professionals.

  • Doctors lead the care team which may include: a medical oncologist, surgical oncologist, hematologist, radiation oncologist, radiologist, pain specialist and other specialists.
  • Physician assistants (PA-C) are trained and licensed to evaluate and treat medical conditions under the supervision of a doctor. A physician assistant can also order tests and prescribe some medications.
  • Nurse practitioners (R.N., N.P.) are registered nurses who have special training and certification to evaluate and treat medical conditions. A nurse practitioner is also authorized to write prescriptions and order tests.
  • Your nurses (R.N.) may include: nurse coordinators, clinic nurses, bedside nurses, case managers and other specialty nurses.
  • Our cancer information resource nurse is an oncology certified nurse who can discuss diagnosis, treatment and clinical trials.  To help you, the cancer information resource nurse is available to patients and the community in person or by phone.
  • Clinical social workers provide for psychosocial, practical and emotional needs of patients and their family caregivers.
  • Other members of your care team may also include: a dietician, physical, occupational and recreational therapists, pharmacists and clinical research staff members.
  • Patient navigators are here to provide you with personalized guidance, information and support, starting with your first visit and throughout your care at City of Hope. A patient navigator is an experienced staff member with in-depth knowledge of City of Hope services and systems who is expertly equipped to assist patients and families with a broad range of needs.

Helpful Resources

  • Taking Charge of Your Care - Doctor-approved patient information for ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology).
  • Doctor, Can We Talk? - Read this guide from CancerCare to learn quick tips for improving communication with your care team.
  • Communicating with Your Health Team - An important part of communication is sharing information with your health care team. This booklet from CancerCare describes how keeping a side effects journal can help. It also covers who can be a part of your health care team, as well as frequently asked questions.
  • My Medicines - Print this handy log to help you track your medications. Use it to list when you start or stop a medication, the purpose of the medication and other important information.