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It’s important to have honest, open discussions with your cancer care team. You should feel free to ask any question, no matter how minor it might seem. For instance, consider these questions:

When you’re told you have pancreatic cancer

  • What kind of pancreatic cancer do I have?
  • Has my cancer spread beyond where it started?
  • What is the stage of my cancer? Is it resectable (removable by surgery)?
  • Do I need any other tests before we can decide on treatment?
  • Will I need to see other doctors?
  • If I’m concerned about the costs and insurance coverage for my diagnosis and treatment, who can help me?

When deciding on a treatment plan

  • How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
  • What are my treatment choices?
  • What do you recommend and why?
  • What is the goal of each treatment?
  • Should I get a second opinion? How do I do that? Can you recommend a doctor or cancer center?
  • How is treatment likely to help me?
  • What risks or side effects might I expect? How long are they likely to last?
  • Should I think about taking part in a clinical trial?
  • 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?
  • What risks or side effects should I expect? How long are they likely to last?
  • Will treatment affect how I eat?
  • Will treatment affect my daily activities?
  • What would my options be if the treatment doesn’t work or if the cancer comes back?

During treatment

Once treatment begins, you’ll need to know what to expect and what to look for. Not all of these questions may apply to you, but getting answers to the ones that do may be helpful.

  • How will we know if the treatment is working?
  • Is there anything I can do to help manage side effects?
  • What symptoms or side effects should I tell you about right away?
  • How can I reach you on nights, holidays, or weekends?
  • Do I need to change what I eat during treatment?
  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • Should I exercise? What should I do, and how often?
  • Can you suggest a mental health professional I can see if I start to feel overwhelmed, depressed, or distressed?

After treatment

  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • What symptoms should I watch for?
  • What kind of exercise should I do now?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • How often will I need to have follow-up exams and tests?
  • How will we know if the cancer has come back? What should I watch for?
  • What will my options be if the cancer comes back?

Along with these sample questions, be sure to write down some of your own. Keep in mind that doctors aren’t the only ones who can give you information. Other health care professionals, such as nurses and social workers, can answer some of your questions. To find out more about speaking with your health care team, see Talking With Your Doctor.

Last Medical Review: 03/14/2016
Last Revised: 04/05/2016