Cancer Treatment Decision Making Process: Part 2 of 3

Sifting Through Confusing Opinions

Hi again and welcome to the ongoing conversation. Last blog on decision making, we reviewed the 1st of many “pitfalls” on the road to the control of cancer…We discussed;

  1. Hospital X is famous for (pancreatic) Cancer treatment, but is located 500 miles away from your home, family, friends and support systems. What will you do?

In this blog, we will review –

2. Hospital Virginia recommends a different type of surgery from Hospital Maryland. Which surgery should you choose and why? Are there guidelines?

First thing, it was great that this patient had a second opinion. However, a third, or fourth opinion can make decisions more difficult. The opinions are usually not the issue though. It is important to seek expert opinions, BUT first, it is essential that the patient understand the basics of the disease in question. If the basics is not understood, then every opinion and discussion will only make a patient feel more overwhelmed. An expert advise will only become more complicated and frustrating.  

Let us use Breast Cancer as an example. A mammogram was abnormal and biopsy was eventually performed, that unfortunately showed cancer. The patient was told that they must meet with a surgeon, a medical oncologist, radiation oncologists, and possible other supportive services. A folder with materials to read was given, but most times the frame of mind after a diagnosis does not lend itself to “reading” lots of information. It just does not compute, for most patients. Nevertheless, patients must prepare for these appointments. Patients usually do not know what to ask their oncologists. What then? Visit HERE for some guidance that uses “visual” pathway of learning and suggestions for Journals with Questions that may prove useful throughout the journey AND afterwards as well. 

Ask Your Cancer Care Team Questions

Here are a few questions for Breast Cancer that should be a part of the conversation with a breast surgeon:

  • What kind of surgeries are available for this kind of Cancer? (Mastectomy vs Lumpectomy)
  • What are the major differences? Can you show me on a picture/diagram? The explanation should include; Here’s a picture. One procedure takes the entire breast and the other just the area where the cancer is located with a margin.
  • What is a margin? Explanation …
  • Lymph nodes will need to be sampled? Why? Explanation..
  • What are lymph nodes? Explanation
  • And so on and so forth… 

Questions for prostate cancer may include some of the same as above, but some additional may include:

  • What is the stage of this cancer? 
  • What are risk groups? 
  • If this is cancer, why does recommendation includes “no treatment?”
  • What is the risk of no treatment? What are my other treatment options?
  • What is radiation therapy?
  • and so on and so forth

The frustrations of survivors, caregivers, and new patients was insurmountable. Admittedly we live in a fast paced, answer us “now” microwave age. But guidance and answers are needed. Questions 4 Cancer Doctors was birthed from this frustration and provide “visual” content for quick review and learning. Check out their cancer courses HERE (take the FREE/Demo course first) and look at their Journal and Guide HERE on Amazon

In essence, the patient and/or their advocate must become almost pragmatic and analytic in fashioning their questions to provide the utmost clarity for the best decision making process.  LISTEN to what the Doctor is saying initially. Interrupt (if you must) and ASK QUESTIONS and request that they explain terminologies you do not understand (before they race on, assuming your head-nodding means understanding). Ask to see information using pictures and diagrams – it will make all the difference! Make the consultation more of a “conversation” … but be prepared with your own questions too.

A picture IS worth a thousand words.

Next time we will review the 3rd scenario;

3. Hospital Q in DC Oncology team recommends Radiation Therapy but Hospital V in Delaware said Radiation Therapy is not necessary. How should you approach this differing opinion?

Remember, it is your life and you must  become your own advocate!


Life is beautiful and God is awesome. And know, you are pure awesomeness!

Until next time,


Remember …

Ipsa Scientia Potestas est    ———  Knowledge itself is power!

Don’t forget to visit our website … HERE

Queen, Your Family Friendly Cancer Doc!

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