Questions to Ask the Healthcare Team About Kidney Cancer

Patients will have many queries in their minds once they are diagnosed with kidney cancer. Open communications with the healthcare team is extremely important in making proper, informed choices and decisions. Below is a list of questions cancer patients can ask their healthcare team. The questions cover almost all aspects of kidney cancer, starting from diagnosis, treatment, clinical trials, post-treatment and follow-up care.

Patients are also encouraged to ask additional questions or doubts regarding the disease condition. Please take note of any query you have and get it cleared. Patients can seek the help of a relative or friend to accompany them for appointments and take note of everything that the doctor prescribes.

Questions to ask after Kidney Cancer diagnosis:

  • What is the type of kidney cancer that I have? Could you explain in detail?
  • Where is the actual location of the tumor? And what kind of cells make up cancerous growth?
  • Could you explain my lab test results or pathology report in detail?
  • What is the stage of my cancerous growth? What does that mean?
  • Has cancer spread or metastasize from its area of origin to the other body parts?
  • Could you explain my disease prognosis?
  • Will I be required to take any more tests or scans before deciding on the treatment plan?

Questions to ask about the treatment plan: 

  • What are the available treatment options for my condition?
  • Which one do you recommend and why?
  • May I know the goal of each treatment option? Is the primary objective to eliminate cancer, help me feel better, or both?
  • Will there be clinical trials available for my condition? Where are they located, and how can I learn and get more information about them?
  • Who will all be part of my healthcare team? Could you elaborate on the role of each member?
  • Who will lead my entire treatment plan?
  • How much experience do you and other members have in treating this disease?
  • Could you explain in detail the procedures involved in the treatment plan?
  • How can I prepare myself for the treatment?
  • Should I get a second opinion regarding diagnosis and treatment? Could you recommend someone?  
  • What is the duration of the treatment?
  • What to do if cancer recurs even after initially successful treatment?
  • Whom or where should I contact to clear my queries and problems?
  • Who can help me in managing the cost of cancer treatment and care?
  • What are the support services available to my family and me?

Questions to ask regarding any surgical procedures:

  • What are the different surgical techniques involved in my treatment plan?
  • Is a partial nephrectomy possible in my case, and if not, why?
  • Will the surgical procedure involve the removal of lymph nodes?
  • Who will conduct the surgery? Does the surgeon have enough experience dealing with this type of cancer condition?
  • If I receive any other kind of treatment in the first place, can surgery be done later? Will that be necessary?
  • What is the duration of the surgical procedure?
  • How long will I need to spend in the hospital?
  • Could you describe in detail what my recovery post-operation will look like?
  • Will there be any side effects of this surgery? If so, what can I expect?
  • Whom or where should I contact if I experience any side effects post-surgery?
  • Will I need any treatment after surgery? If so, what type of treatments would be required?

Questions to ask regarding therapy using medication:

  • Can my disease condition be treated with therapies using medicine? What are the options available?
  • What is the role of immunotherapy or targeted therapy in my treatment plan? Explain in detail.
  • Could you elaborate on the goal of each of these treatment options?
  • Does this healthcare institution or hospital have expertise in using high-dose IL-2, if required in my case? If not, which is the nearest health care facility where I can find one with the expertise?
  • What is the duration of these treatments?
  • Where shall I get these treatments- at a clinic or hospital?
  • Can any of these procedures cause any side effects? If so, whom or where should I approach?
  • What can I do to keep myself healthy as possible during the treatment?
  • Questions related to Managing and Relieving Side-effects:
  • What are the possible side effects of the treatments?
  • Could you explain the treatments’ long-term and short-term side effects in detail?
  • What can all be done to reduce the side effects?
  • How will the treatment affect my daily life? Will it affect my ability to work, exercise, and perform other usual activities?
  • Will the treatment plan affect my sex life? If so, in what all ways?
  • Could the treatment procedures affect my ability to conceive and have kids? If so, should I consult a fertility specialist before the kidney cancer treatment begins?
  • What to do if the treatment doesn’t work and cancer recurs? 
  • What are the ways and methods to manage and relieve side effects?
  • What symptoms should I watch for and report during and after kidney cancer treatment?
  • Whom should I consult to help manage the side effects?
  • Will the hospital provide physical, mental and social support to manage the effects of the treatment?

Questions to ask post-treatment:

  • Do I need to make alterations in my diet post-treatment?
  • What all symptoms and signs should I watch for and report?
  • Do I need to change my daily routine? Will there be a limit on what I can do?
  • Should I need to follow some specific exercises or workouts?

Questions regarding planning the follow-up care:

  • What kind of follow-up care will be required post-treatment?
  • How often would these follow-up check-ups be needed in my condition?
  • What all tests and scans would be carried out during the follow-up check-ups? Will it include blood tests and imaging scans?
  • What is the chance of cancer recurring back in the body? Should I watch for specific symptoms and signs?
  • What steps will be taken to relieve the late effects of the treatment?
  • Who will all be involved in my follow-up care routine? Who will lead it?
  • Can I get a treatment summary and survivorship care plan to keep in my records for reference?
  • What is the survivorship support available for my family and me?