Skin Cancer: Basal and Squamous Cell Overview

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Talking With Your Doctor TOPICS

What are some questions I can ask my doctor about basal and squamous cell skin cancer?

As you cope with cancer and its treatment, you need to have honest, open talks with your doctor. You should feel free to ask any question that’s on your mind, 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 may also be able to answer many of your questions.

  • Would you please write down the exact kind of cancer I have?
  • Can you explain the different types of skin cancer?
  • Has the cancer spread beneath my skin? Has it spread to lymph nodes or to other organs?
  • Do I need any other tests before we can decide on treatment?
  • Do I need to see other doctors?
  • How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
  • What are my treatment options? What do you recommend? Why?
  • What will treatment be like? Where will it be done? How long will it take?
  • Will I be OK if the cancer is just removed with no follow-up treatment?
  • What risks or side effects should I expect with my treatment?
  • Will I have a scar after treatment?
  • What are the chances that the skin cancer will come back? 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 care to avoid sun exposure? How should I do that?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • Are 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 to know more 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 more about communicating with your health care team, see our document Talking With Your Doctor.


Last Medical Review: 02/24/2014
Last Revised: 02/24/2014