Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancer

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Talking With Your Doctor TOPICS

What should you ask your doctor about oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers?

As you cope with cancer and cancer treatment, we encourage you to have honest, open discussions with your doctor. Ask any question on your mind, no matter how small it might seem. Here are some questions you might want to ask. Nurses, social workers, and other members of the treatment team may also be able to answer many of your questions.

  • What kind of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer do I have?
  • Where is my cancer located?
  • Has my cancer spread beyond the main (primary) site?
  • What is the stage of my cancer? What does the stage mean in my case?
  • Are there other tests that need to be done before we can decide on treatment?
  • Are there other doctors I need to see?
  • How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
  • What treatment choices do I have? Which do you recommend? Why?
  • What is the goal of the treatment?
  • What are the chances my cancer can be cured with treatment?
  • How quickly do we need to decide on treatment?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
  • How long will treatment last? What will it involve? Where will it be done?
  • How would treatment affect my daily activities?
  • What risks and side effects can I expect? How long are they likely to last?
  • Will this treatment affect my appearance? If so, what options for reconstruction do I have?
  • What are our options if the treatment doesn’t work or if the cancer recurs?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • Where can I find more information and support?

In addition to these sample questions, be sure to write down some of your own. For instance, you might want more information about recovery times so you can plan your work or activity schedule. Or you may want to ask about second opinions or about clinical trials for which you may qualify. You can find more information about communicating with your health care team in our document Talking With Your Doctor.

Last Medical Review: 02/26/2013
Last Revised: 02/06/2014