Questions for the Oncologist

I have a lot of questions for my oncologist during my appointment tomorrow morning. I’ve written a list:

  • Please verify the details of my cancer as I understand them:
    • 6 cm tumor in my right lower lobe, right?
    • the biopsy confirmed non-small cell adenocarcinoma, the most common type of lung cancer, true?
  • Is the tumor closer to the front or the back of the lung?
  • What is my prognosis?
  • What could I expect if I had no treatment at all?
  • What does the size of my tumor (6 cm?) say about how long it has been growing?
  • What is the stage of my cancer?
  • Are there options other than surgery available? Why one over another?
  • Would surgeons go in from the front or the back of my chest?
  • Is a minimally invasive surgery possible for me? If so, what are pros and cons?
  • If I undergo surgery, how long am I likely to need to stay in hospital?
  • When can I expect to hear from UAMS?
  • When can I expect surgery to be scheduled?
  • Would I be better off going to MD Anderson in Houston for treatment? Why or why not?
  • Assuming the tumor is excised, how likely is it to develop again?
  • What about chemo or radiation? Necessary? Advisable? Pros & cons? Pre and/or post surgery?
  • How long has my tumor been growing? (More or less)
  • Is a vegetarian diet or vegan diet apt to have any impact on recovery and/or prognosis?
  • How long before I’m back to “normal” if, indeed, that is something I can expect?
  • What effect will removal of part of my lung have on my quality of life?
  • After treatment, how frequently will I need additional treatment/follow-up?
  • Can follow-up be in Hot Springs or must I go to LR? (Or Houston)
  • If I were to decide to take two years to “see the country” or “see the world” after treatment, what constraints would I have to contend with?
  • How frequently should I be tested, subsequent to “cure,” for new cancer?
  • What can I do to make the process of treatment and recovery easier on my wife?
  • What is the likelihood of recurrence, assuming all the cancer is removed by surgery and/or destroyed by other means?

Some of these questions may be irrelevant, depending on answers to others. And some may seem absurd. But I have reasons for all of them. I suspect I’ll have other questions and I may well decide not to ask some of the questions I have so far.

I remember, after my bypass surgery, I was out of commission for two or three weeks. That was fifteen years ago, so the same surgery today might require far less recovery time. I wonder whether today’s lung cancer surgery has advanced considerably in recent years? And I wonder what impact the surgery will have on me today, at 65 years of age, compared to the same type of surgery at fifty-one? I guess I should ask those questions, too. I suspect some of my questions for the oncologist will have to wait to be answered by the surgeon. I’m anxious to get this process on the fast track so it can be over.  For reasons I can’t quite understand, I really want this to be over and done by Thanksgiving. That’s just two weeks and four days from now. I may be disappointed.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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2 Responses to Questions for the Oncologist

  1. Thanks, Bev. We shall see what the docs suggest and why they suggest what they do.

  2. bev wigney says:

    They’re all pretty good questions. I was going to suggest that you might want to check into the possibility of going to MD Anderson as many people with LC go there. However, I suspect it’s not necessary at this point. Those cancer centres are the kinds of places people go for advanced treatment under clinical trials — treatment beyond what most hospitals offer. I don’t actually think they’ll want to do chemo at this point — just a guess because they save the big guns for when they need them — but if they do want to do chemo, it’s good to check to see how that might change your eligibility for clinical trials. Most trials have certain conditions — like, only having done one type of chemo — not two — and so on. It’s good to keep those options open when possible. Hope you have a good meeting with your oncologist.

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