What questions should I ask during informed consent?

You will, of course, have your own questions, especially once the doctor starts sharing information. But some basic questions you might ask include:

  • What is my diagnosis (the medical name for the illness I have) and what does it mean?
  • How serious is my diagnosis?
  • What treatments are recommended?
  • Are there other treatment options? What are they?
  • What benefits can I expect from the recommended treatments and the other options?
  • What are the risks or complications of the recommended treatment and the other treatment options?
  • Are there problems or side effects that may be caused by the treatments?
  • What will be done to help prevent or relieve these problems or side effects?
  • What are the side effects of the treatment – immediate, temporary, and long-lasting?
  • How will having treatment affect my normal functions and everyday activities?
  • How would not having treatment affect my normal functions and everyday activities?
  • How long will treatment last?
  • How long will it be before I can go back to my normal activities?
  • How much does the treatment cost?
  • Will my insurance cover it? How much will I have to pay?

It’s a good idea to write down your questions and bring the list to your appointments, take notes on the answers, or bring a device to record the discussion. (Check with the doctor before you record your talks.) Good health providers usually appreciate a patient’s efforts to understand the challenges they face and to make informed decisions.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: May 20, 2016 Last Revised: July 28, 2014

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