What Should You Ask Your Doctor About Anal Cancer?

As you deal with your cancer and the process of treatment, you need to have honest, open discussions with your cancer care team. You should feel free to ask any question that’s on your mind, no matter how small it might seem. Among the questions you might want to ask are:

  • What kind of anal cancer do I have?
  • Has my cancer spread beyond where it started?
  • What is my cancer’s stage? What does this mean?
  • Will I need other tests before we can decide on treatment?
  • Will I need to see other doctors?
  • How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
  • Should I get a second opinion? Can you recommend a doctor or cancer center?
  • What are my treatment choices?
  • What treatment would you recommend for me? Why?
  • What is the goal of each treatment?
  • What are the chances my cancer can be cured with these options?
  • What risks or side effects can I expect? How long are they likely to last?
  • Will I need to have a colostomy?
  • How soon after treatment can I return to my normal activities, such as work, school, exercise, or sex?
  • How soon do I need to start treatment?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
  • How long will treatment last? What will it be like? Where will it be done?
  • How soon after treatment starts will we know if it’s working?
  • What will we do if the treatment doesn’t work or if the cancer comes back?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • Where can I find more information and support?

You will no doubt have other questions about your own situation. Be sure and write your questions down so you will remember to ask them during each visit with your cancer care team. Keep in mind, too, that doctors are not the only ones who can provide you with information. Other health care professionals, such as nurses and social workers, may have the answers to some of your questions. You can find more information about communicating with your health care team in The Doctor-Patient Relationship.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: April 9, 2014 Last Revised: January 20, 2016

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