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Newly Diagnosed with Cancer?Where do you go from here? Part II

One of the most important things you can do is to activate and engage yourself in your own healthcare. The best way to do this is to ask lots of questions and gather as much information as you can about your caregivers, condition and treatment options.

The two most important immediate questions that will need answering are: where will you seek treatment and from whom. For this, you will need to evaluate the experience and approach to cancer treatment of your caregiver team. For example, it is of utmost importance to ask your potential caregivers about their philosophy in taking care of cancer patients. You may have your own philosophy or develop one over time – try to assess how closely they match? Here are some pointers to gauge this.

  • Will your caregivers suggest that you enroll in clinical studies if the standard of care is not working?

  • Will they point you to studies at other institutions or at least give you an opinion on such studies?

  • Will they encourage you to seek second opinions?

  • Depending on the disease in question, you may wish to enroll in clinical studies at the very outset and not after standard options have been exhausted. This may seem a bit odd but it applies especially to cancers for which the outcomes from standard treatment are not very good. Ask your caregivers about this. It is also important to think ahead of what treatments might exclude you from certain trials later – talk to your caregivers about this matter early on as well. In general, see if they will talk to you about what might come next, if the current therapy were to fail – i.e. what is Plan B or C?

  • How do your caregivers view so-called alternative approaches or ideas that you bring to them from the web or from other sources? Will they engage you in a dialogue on such matters?

  • Will they take care of you until the very end if things were not to go well and/or refer you to palliative services at the appropriate time?

More to come in Part III


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