Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors in Adults

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Talking With Your Doctor TOPICS

What should you ask your doctor about adult brain and spinal cord tumors?

It’s important for you to have honest, open discussions with your cancer care team. Feel free to ask any question, no matter how small it might seem. Here are some questions you might want to ask. Be sure to add your own questions as you think of them. Nurses, social workers, and other members of the treatment team can also answer many of your questions.

  • What kind of tumor do I have?
  • Is the tumor benign or malignant? What does this mean?
  • Where in the brain or spinal cord is the tumor and how far has it spread?
  • Do I need other tests before we can decide on treatment?
  • How much experience do you have treating this type of tumor?
  • Should I get a second opinion? Can you recommend a doctor or cancer center?
  • What are my treatment choices? What do you recommend? Why?
  • What’s the goal of treatment (cure, prolonging life, relieving symptoms, etc.)?
  • Will treatment relieve any of the symptoms I now have?
  • What are the possible risks or side effects of treatment? What disabilities might I develop?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
  • How long will treatment take? What will it be like? Where will it be given?
  • What is my expected prognosis (outlook)?
  • What would we do if the treatment doesn’t work or if the tumor comes back?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • Where can I find more information and support?

Along with these sample questions, be sure to write down any others you want to ask. For instance, you might want information about recovery times so that you can plan your work or activity schedule. Or you might want to ask about clinical trials that might be right for you.


Last Medical Review: 03/05/2014
Last Revised: 03/05/2014