Talking to Your Doctor About Ovarian Cancer

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with ovarian cancer . By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care. Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
  • How soon will I know the results from the pathology report?
  • Can you give me detailed information about:
    • Ovarian cancer
    • The stage of my cancer
    • The grade of my cancer
  • Given my family and medical history, how great is my risk?
  • Should I have an ultrasound examination to make sure I don't have an early cancer in an ovary
  • Do you recommend the current standard treatment, or would you advise me to look into enrolling in a clinical trial of new treatments?
  • What are the treatment options, and for each possibility, what can you tell me about:
    • The risks
    • Possible benefits
    • Side effects
  • How long should I expect to be in an active phase of treatment?
  • What limitations should I expect in my usual routine and for how long?
    • How much time should I plan on taking off from work?
    • Should I look into getting help around the house?
    • Will the surgery affect my sex life?
  • What are my chances of being completely cured of my cancer?
  • Will cancer and/or the treatment affect my fertility?
  • How long do I have to wait to know how effective my treatment was?

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References

Kasper DL, Harrison TR. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 1998.

Ovarian cancer. National Cancer Institutewebsite. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/ovarian. Accessed January 3, 2014.

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