If you have been diagnosed with cancer, question everything about it. In this conversation, no questions should be off limits. Everything should be laid out on the table. ALWAYS ask to see the proper statistical studies and warning labels which are required by physicians in case you or your loved one are being prescribed a medication – especially chemotherapy. It should be the correct procedure but most of them don’t have time to study them all so don’t be surprised if your oncologist becomes ill-tempered and blows you off when you ask them for it, and when they do, they usually just repeat what their Pharmaceutical Sales Representative have told them.
This is a life or death situation so you MUST make time just as your oncologist MUST make time to make all things clear before any treatment should be conducted. Have your goals of treatment in mind and written down because this is one of the most important conversations you may ever have in your life. Your entire wellbeing and your life depend on this.
Here Are Important Questions You Should Ask Your Oncologist
1.) Is it alright if I record this conversation?
When your loved one or your very life is on the line, conversations with your doctors, especially with your oncologist, take on enormous importance. Consider it a big red flag if your doctor objects on recording your conversations. Doctors are most of the time busy and most conversations take place when they are. It can be very hard to listen, understand, and ask important questions when the doctor is in a hurried bedside manner in addition to the emotional intensity you or your loved one is experiencing. Recording important discussions with your doctor about treatment options is an excellent way to keep a record so that you can:
a.) concentrate on listening;
b.) not worry about taking notes;
c.) focus on your questions;
replay and review the conversation in a less stressful environment such as your own home to fully comprehend what the physician communicated. It is always a good idea to use the first few seconds of the recording to have all the parties acknowledge that the meeting is being recorded with their permission. In the Philippines, there are legal ramifications if permission is not obtained for recorded conversations.
2.) Why do I need the chemotherapy?
3.) Why aren’t we considering Immunotherapy instead of chemotherapy?
4.) Do you have experience with Immunotherapy?
Once your oncologist speaks against Immunotherapy, find out why since at present, Immunotherapy is the gold standard for treatment in the U.S. You must understand that majority of oncologist earn their income through chemotherapy.
5.) What is the goal of the chemotherapy?
6.) Is this intended to be a curative or palliative treatment?
Palliative treatments’ role is not to cure or prolong life without harming the patient. They are intended to provide relief from pain, symptoms, mental stress, and physical stress of a terminal illness.
7.) Are there other treatment options for me and is chemotherapy really the best option for my situation?
8.) What are the risks, benefits, and possible complications of the chemotherapy treatment?
9.) How often do your patients experience any problems?
10.) Did you send my pathology to another Doctor for a second opinion?
The pathology of your tumor cells tells pathologists whether or not you actually have cancer and what kind. In order to ensure that you are properly diagnosed, having a second opinion or look by another pathologist from another hospital would be a big help. Find out who rendered the second opinion and what they concluded. Countless patients are treated with cancer when there was never ANY evidence of cancer.
11.) How many patients have you treated with my diagnosis/type of cancer?
a.) Which treatments did you use?
b.) Are any of the patients still alive?
c.) How many have survived more than 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
d.) Can I speak with some of the survivors for me to be able to see what the quality of their lives has been like – during and post-treatment?
Gather ideas about the oncologist’s experience regarding the various treatments being recommended. With each therapy, you should find out how many patients they have treated and ask if there is a possibility for you to speak to these other patients. Valuable insight into what to expect can be provided by patients like you who have been administered the same therapy by the same oncologist(s).
12.) What is your specific treatment plan for me?
Find out how many times they have used this plan before on a patient.
13.) What evidence can you provide that shows success with your treatment plan for me?
This is critical to find out. It is all about how many patients survived the treatment and were able to resume a normal life.
14.) Can you show me where the survival information comes from? Is it reported in the peer-reviewed published medical literature? Can you give me a copy of the article(s)?
Patients’ survival information can be provided by a monthly medical journal that your doctor should be familiar with. Any survival/ prognosis claimed by your oncologist should be supported with data or published studies that they can share with you. Be wary if your oncologists can’t support their claims with medical studies or examples of other patients they have treated as well as if they do happen to provide articles wherein the industry have just funded it without secondary scientific verification.
15.) What lifestyle and dietary changes will I need to make to improve the outcome of the chemotherapy and protect my body during treatments?
16.) Since the vast majority of cancer is shown to be a direct result of lifestyle, what are some of my specific lifestyle risk factors that contributed to me getting cancer?
This article will provide you with all the information you need regarding the causes of cancer – What Causes Cancer?
17.) Did any of your patients have side effects from the treatment?
a.) What were they?
b.) What was the worst side effect?
c.) Did anyone die from the treatment and not cancer?
Ask questions for you to learn about how toxic the therapy is since some patients do not die from their cancer, but from the treatment itself.
18.) How can you help me with the side effects of this treatment?
19.) Do you have patients who have gotten worse under your care? Why? What happened?
20.) Are these drugs FDA approved specifically for treating my cancer?
A number of cancer drugs are not approved by the FDA for the use for which they are prescribed. (This is called “off-label” use.) Actually, some drugs are never approved for safety or efficacy by the FDA when it comes to treating particular cancer. It’s necessary for you to know if any of the drugs the oncologist intends to prescribe would be used “off-label” and if so, why the oncologist is comfortable with that use in your body.
19.) What percentage of your patients with my diagnosis/type of cancer have been cured?
20.) What are my chances of being cured? How did you come up with that number?
21.) Do you have any financial or research interest in this treatment you are recommending? For example, are you being paid by a drug company when you prescribe these drugs? Do you consult for the drug company that makes these drugs?
Some oncologists have financial arrangements with different drug makers or financial incentives. You should find out whether your doctor(s) has any research or financial interest in recommending a certain treatment.
22.) If you order a CT scan, MRI, tests, or a chemotherapy drug, do you get a commission, rebate, or kickback? How much do you get?
23.) Before the treatment, will I be required to sign a waiver that releases you or the hospital from any harm caused by the treatment?
24.) What legal solutions are available to me if the procedures administrated to me by this hospital hurt me?
25.) How much will my treatment cost me?
26.) How much profit will the hospital make from my treatment?
27.) How much profit will you make from my treatment?
28.) If you were me, would you take the treatment that you are recommending?
29.) Were you aware that chemotherapy was shown to be 97% ineffective for cancer in numerous scientific articles, especially in the treatment of adult-onset cancer in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2003?
As stated in these articles, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ and http://www.icnr.com/articles/, you can say that this kind of treatment is indeed ineffective.
30.) So, if it’s been shown to be 97% ineffective, why are you recommending that I do it?
31.) Do you have a plan to address my circulating tumor cells?
32.) How will you support my immune system during treatment?
34.) What is my prognosis with no chemo?
Seldom comparisons are made between the results of those patients who received no adjuvant treatment (no therapy beyond surgery) and a clinical trial. When comparisons between the quality of life and survival are made, they are not usually made between treatment and no treatment, but instead between two or more treatment. Therefore, it would be difficult for an oncologist to objectively answer questions regarding how long the treated patients lived what their quality of life was compared to those who received no adjuvant therapy.
Always remember that if a drug or regimen has not been proven to cure, improve the quality of life, or significantly prolong actual survival; and if it only temporarily shrinks tumors, with a probable loss in well-being – then it should not be presented as anything else as it is at most entirely experimental and unproven. Aside from being ineffective, it could be painful, destructive — or even fatal.