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Questions to Ask About Your Basal or Squamous Cell Skin Cancer

If you have basal or squamous cell skin cancer, it’s important to have honest, open discussions with your doctor. Ask any question, no matter how small it might seem. Here are some questions you might want to ask.

When you’re told you have skin cancer

  • What type of skin cancer do I have?
  • Can you explain the different types of skin cancer?
  • Has the cancer grown deeply into the skin? Has it spread to nearby areas or to other parts of the body?
  • Do I need any other tests before we can decide on treatment?
  • Do we need to find out the stage or risk group of the cancer? Are there any other factors that might affect my treatment options?
  • Do I need to see any other doctors?
  • If I’m worried 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 options? What do you recommend? Why?
  • Will I be OK if the cancer is just removed with no other treatment?
  • What will treatment be like? Where will it be done?
  • What are the risks or side effects from treatment?
  • Will I have a scar after treatment? How big will it be?
  • How quickly do we need to decide on treatment?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?

After treatment

  • What are the chances of my cancer coming back with the treatment options we have discussed? What would our options be if that happens?
  • What are my chances of developing another skin cancer?
  • Should I take special precautions to avoid the sun? What steps I can take to protect myself?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • How will we know if the cancer has come back? What should I watch for?
  • 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 any others you have. 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.

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 The Doctor-Patient Relationship.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: October 31, 2023

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