3 questions to ask an oncologist

According to statistical data, nearly 40% of women and men will be diagnosed with cancer at some point. Such statistical evidence indicates that cancer treatment is the need of the hour in the country. Today, several interventions have been developed to help patients overcome cancer. Timely diagnosis can facilitate better treatment response, aiding in recovery. Here are some important questions that patients may find embarrassing but must ask their oncologists to have a better understanding of the condition:

What stage of cancer do I have?
One of the most crucial questions to ask an oncologist upon cancer diagnosis is what stage of cancer is one in. Most cancers have four stages. The first stage is the most preliminary one, wherein cancer has not begun spreading to other areas of the body. In the second stage, cancer has grown but has not begun spreading to other areas. The third stage involves the spread of cancer to other tissues and lymph nodes, while the fourth stage is where cancer spreads to other body organs. It is imperative to ask the oncologist the stage of cancer one has and the extent to which it has spread in the body. Such information can help patients understand the course and intensity of treatment that may be required.

What treatment options do I have, and what are its side effects?
Oncologists recommend a course of treatment based on the type and stage of cancer. Radiation chemotherapy, surgery, and oral chemotherapy are some interventions oncologists suggest to treat cancer. It always helps to discuss with the oncologist about other treatment options and why the prescribed intervention would work best for the patient. Moreover, understanding the side effects of a certain line of treatment is imperative to find ways to alleviate such effects if possible or just be mentally prepared.

What is the goal and course of the treatment?
Another pertinent question to ask an oncologist is what the goal and course of the prescribed treatment are. Cancer treatment may be one of three types: 

Primary: Primary treatment rids the body of all cancer cells.
Adjuvant: Adjuvant treatment destroys the remaining cancer cells after the primary intervention.
Palliative: Palliative treatment controls cancer symptoms or treatment side effects.

Asking the oncologist about the treatment course can help one understand where the intervention is headed and what to expect.