Skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous Cell

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Talking With Your Doctor TOPICS

What should you ask your doctor about basal and squamous cell skin cancers?

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

  • What type of skin cancer do I have?
  • Can you explain the different types of skin cancer?
  • Has my cancer spread beneath the skin? Has it spread to lymph nodes or other organs?
  • 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 are my treatment options? What do you recommend? Why?
  • Will I be okay if the cancer is just removed with no follow-up treatment?
  • What are the risks or side effects that I should expect?
  • Will I have a scar after treatment?
  • What are the chances of my cancer coming back with the treatment options we have discussed? What would we do if that happens?
  • How quickly do we need to decide on treatment?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
  • What are my chances of developing another skin cancer?
  • Should I take special precautions to avoid sun exposure? What are the most important steps I can take to protect myself from the sun?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • Are any of my family members at risk for skin cancer? What should I tell them to do?

Along with 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: 10/21/2013
Last Revised: 02/20/2014