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Important Questions A Cancer Patient Needs to Ask His Surgeon Before Having A Surgery


If ever you or your loved one are being prescribed surgery, ask everything regarding the matter to your surgeon. By doing this, you’ll be able to know the statistical studies as well as the risks which are required to be disclosed by physicians. Don’t be surprised once your surgeon becomes short with you or blows you off when you try to make him explain every detail. If they do, they usually just repeat what his professors taught him at school. Have your goals of treatment in mind and written down. No question should be off limits as this is one of the most important conversations you may ever have.


Here Are The Important Questions You Need to Ask Your Surgeon Before Submitting Into Surgery



1.) Is it alright if I record this conversation?

Conversations with your oncologists and other physicians are necessary when life and death decisions are at stake. It indicates a big red flag if your doctor objects making detailed conversations about the problem you are facing. There were times that these conversations take place when the doctor is very busy and also because of the emotional intensity of the patient and family it can be very hard to listen, understand, and ask questions. You can record your conversations with your doctor(s) regarding your treatment options for you to be able to not worry about taking notes; concentrate on listening; focus on your questions; and replay and review the conversations in an environment which is less stressful just like your own home in order for you to be able to fully understand what your physician communicated. Just see to it to use the first few seconds of the recording to have all the parties acknowledge that the meeting is being recorded with their permission.


2.) Why do I need this operation?

3.) Why aren’t we considering Immunotherapy instead of surgery?

4.) Do you have experience with Immunotherapy?

Once your surgeon speaks against Immunotherapy, find out why since at present, Immunotherapy is the gold standard for treatment in the U.S. You must understand that majority of oncologist earn their income through chemotherapy.

5.) What is the goal of the operation?

6.) Is this intended to be a curative, debulking or palliative surgery?

Debulking involves reduction of as much of the bulk of a tumor as possible.
Palliative treatments’ role is not to cure or prolong life. They are intended to provide relief from pain, symptoms, mental stress, and physical stress of a terminal illness.

7.) Are there other treatment options and is this operation the best option for me?

8.) What are the risks, benefits and possible complications for this operation?



9.) How often do your patients experience any problems?

10.) Did you send my pathology to another Doctor for a second opinion?

The pathology of your tumor cells tells pathologists whether or not you actually have cancer and what kind. Unfortunately, there were situations wherein patients have been treated inappropriately because they were diagnosed with the wrong kind of cancer. In order to ensure that you are properly diagnosed, having a second opinion or look by another pathologist from another hospital would be a big help. Find out who rendered the second opinion and what they concluded. Countless patients are treated with cancer when there was never ANY evidence of cancer.

11.) How many patients have you treated with my diagnosis/type of cancer?

a.) Which treatments did you use?
b.) Are any of the patients still alive?
c.) How many have survived more than 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
d.) Can I speak with some of them to see what the quality of their lives has been like – during and post-treatment?


Gather ideas about the surgeon’s experience regarding the various treatments being recommended. With each therapy, you should find out how many patients they have treated and ask if there is a possibility for you to speak to these other patients. Valuable insight into what to expect can be provided by patients like you who have been administered the same therapy by the same oncologist(s).

12.) What is your treatment plan for me pre and post op?

Find out how many times they have used this plan before on a patient.

13.) What evidence can you provide that shows success with your treatment plan for me?

This is critical to find out. Ask if how many patients survived the treatment and were able to resume a normal life.

14.) Can you show me where the survival information comes from?

a.) Is it reported in the peer-reviewed published medical literature?
b.) Can you give me a copy of the article(s)?

Patients’ survival information can be provided by a monthly medical journal that your doctor should be familiar with. Any survival/ prognosis claimed by them should be supported with data or published studies that they can share with you. Be wary if they can’t support their claims with medical studies or examples of other patients they have treated as well as if they do happen to provide articles wherein the industry has just funded it without secondary scientific verification.

15.) What lifestyle and dietary changes will I need to make to improve the outcome of the surgery and protect my body during treatment?

16.) Since the vast majority of cancer is shown to be a direct result of lifestyle, what are some of my specific lifestyle risk factors that contributed to me getting cancer?

This article will provide you with all the information you need regarding the causes of cancer - What Causes Cancer?

17.) Did any of your patients have side effects from surgery?

a.) What were the side effects?
b.) What was the worst side effect?
c.) Did anyone die from the treatment and not from cancer itself?


Ask questions to learn the risks of the procedure as some patients do not die from their cancer but from the treatment.

18.) How can you help me with the side effects of the surgery?

19.) Do you have patients who have gotten worse under your care? Why? What happened?

20.) (For breast cancer) Since mastectomies have been largely abandoned in most 1st world countries in favor of lumpectomies for nearly 30 years, why are you recommending it for me?

21.) (For prostate cancer) Since “watching and waiting” has been shown to be a better approach than surgical removal of the prostate for the vast majority of cases, why are you recommending the surgery to me?

22.) What percentage of your patients with my diagnosis/type of cancer have been cured?

23.) What are my chances of being cured? How did you come up with that number?

24.) Do you have any financial or research interest in this treatment you are recommending?

a.) For example, how much are you earning to perform this surgery?

Some surgeons might have financial incentives or arrangements that can be construed as a conflict of interest. Find out whether your doctor(s) have any research or financial interests in recommending a particular treatment.

25.) If you order a CT scan, MRI, tests, or any other procedures, do you get a commission, rebate, or kickback?

a.) How much do you get?

26.) Before the treatment, will I be required to sign a waiver that releases you or the hospital from any harm caused by the treatment?

27.) What legal solutions are available to me if the procedures administrated to me by this hospital hurt me?

28.) How much will my treatment cost me?

29.) How much profit will the hospital make from my treatment?

30.) How much profit will you make from my treatment?

31.) If you were me, would you take the treatment that you are recommending?

32.) Do you have a plan to address my circulating tumor cells?

33.) How will this treatment change the cancer environment: will it only remove some of the cancer cells and leave me vulnerable when the cancer stem cells go on to create more cancer?

34.) How will you support my immune system during treatment?

35.) What is my prognosis with no surgery?

Seldom comparisons are made between the results of those patients who received no treatment at all and a clinical trial. When comparisons between the quality of life and survival are made, they are not usually made between treatment and no treatment, but instead between two or more treatment. Therefore, it would be difficult for the surgeon to objectively answer questions regarding how long the treated patients lived and what their quality of life was compared to those who received no surgery.

Always remember that if a procedure has not been proven to cure, improve the quality of life, or significantly prolong actual survival; and if it only temporarily debulks tumors, with a probable loss in well-being – then it should not be presented as anything else as it is at most entirely experimental and unproven. Aside from being ineffective, it could be painful, destructive -- or even fatal.

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