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What to ask your doctor about bowel cancer treatment

Men and women discussing bowel cancer

Some questions you may want to ask your doctor

  • What is the stage of my cancer and what does this mean?
  • What is the grade of my cancer and what does this mean?
  • What is the likely outcome (prognosis) of my cancer?
  • What sort of treatment do I need?
  • What is the aim of the treatment?
  • Is there any choice of treatments?
  • Should I have any other treatment as well as surgery?
  • Is it possible to get a second opinion?
  • What are the short and long term side effects of treatment?
  • What written information can you give me about my treatments?
  • Is there a specialist nurse I can see?
  • How often will you want to see me after my treatment is finished?
  • What will happen at my follow up appointments?
  • What should I do if I am worried between appointments?
  • Is there anything I should be looking out for?

Questions for your doctor when bowel cancer is advanced

  • What treatment do you recommend now my cancer has come back?
  • What are the side effects of treatment likely to be?
  • Is it possible for me to have surgery to remove secondary cancer?
  • Which other treatments can help with cancer in the liver?
  • I have had chemotherapy so is there another type of chemotherapy or cancer drug I could have?
  • Are there any experimental treatments or trials you would recommend for me?
  • Is there a counsellor here I could talk things through with?
  • What if I decide not to have treatment?
  • How can you help to manage my symptoms?
  • Is there a specialist nurse I can see?
  • Can I get help with travel costs?

There are more suggestions for questions at the end of the sections about surgery for bowel cancer, chemotherapy for bowel cancer and radiotherapy for bowel cancer.

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Updated: 10 September 2013