Patients will have a lot of queries in their minds concerning their disease (Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal) condition. Open communication with the doctor and health care team is crucial in making informed choices regarding cancer treatment and care. Below is a list of questions patients can ask their healthcare team regarding laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer. Patients are also encouraged to ask additional vital questions relevant to their condition.
Patients are advised to take a family member or friend while going for appointments to note everything that the doctor recommends and prescribes; and as a source of support.
Questions to ask regarding disease diagnosis:
- What is my disease condition?
- What is the type of head and neck cancer that I have?
- Where is the actual location of the tumor?
- What is the stage and grade of my tumor? What does that indicate?
- How aggressive or advanced is my tumor condition? Is it invading vital tissues and organ structures?
- Could you explain in detail my laboratory test results or pathology reports?
- Could you explain my diagnosis in detail? Is the disease condition curable?
- Should I seek any second opinion or additional consultation? Could you recommend any other physician with whom I can talk?
- Does my cancer condition require a genetic test?
Questions to ask regarding choosing the treatment plan:
- What are the available treatment options to treat and cure this cancer condition?
- Which treatment strategy would you recommend and why?
- Am I eligible to avail myself of clinical trials? Are there clinical trials available for my condition? If so, where can I find them? How can I get more information about clinical trials?
- What is the aim of each treatment strategy? Is it to destroy the tumor growth, make me feel better, or both?
- What should I expect post-treatment?
- Who are the members of my health care team? What are the role and duties of each member?
- Who will be leading the whole treatment plan?
- Could you recommend a specialist whom I can consult? Should I consult a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, or plastic surgeon?
- Could you recommend an oncologic dentist?
- How can I manage the cost of treatment and care? Where can I seek help?
- Are there any support services available for my family and me? How do I get in touch with them?
- Whom or where should I consult if I have more questions and queries regarding laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer treatment and care?
- If I am worried about managing the costs of medical care, who can help me?
- What support services are available to me and to my family?
- If I have questions or problems, whom or where should I call?
Questions regarding Managing and relieving side effects:
- What are the possible long-term and short-term side effects of the treatment? Explain in detail.
- Will this treatment affect my day-to-day life and activities? Will it interfere with my ability to work, exercise, and perform other usual tasks?
- What kind of toothpaste or mouth rinses should I use?
- Could you recommend a speech pathologist before the cancer treatment begins?
- What should I do to deal with dry mouth?
- Will this treatment affect my ability to eat, speak and swallow?
- What steps would be taken to manage and relieve the probable side effects of the treatment?
- Will post-treatment care focus on curing the side effects of tumor treatment?
Questions to ask about having any surgical procedures:
- Is surgery a part of my treatment plan? Is it necessary to treat my disease condition?
- What types of surgical procedures are performed to treat these cancers?
- What is the goal of the surgical procedure? Is it to remove the tumor wholly?
- What type of surgical procedure is available to treat my disease condition? Which one would you recommend and why?
- Will lymph nodes be removed during the surgery? What kind of neck dissection would be made if that is the case, and what does that mean?
- Is there a chance that the tumor may recur even after a successful surgery?
- What is the duration of the surgical procedure?
- What is the experience of this surgeon in handling such cancer cases? How many surgeries has this surgeon done in the past?
- How long will I need to spend in the hospital or care facility?
- Could you describe what my treatment recovery would look like?
- Can these surgical procedures cause any side effects? Could you explain the short-term and long-term side effects, if any, of surgery?
- Whom or where should I contact if I experience any side effects due to treatment, and how soon?
- How much is the probability that I may lose my voice box/larynx post-surgery? If so, what are the options available for speech or voice rehabilitation? How do avail these services?
- Should I go for rehabilitation services post-surgery?
- Will I need to undergo any treatment before or after surgery?
- Is there a requirement of any major reconstruction? Will this surgery affect my ability to eat and speak?
- Will this surgical procedure affect my ability to move my shoulder?
Questions to ask regarding radiation therapy:
- What is the aim of radiation therapy?
- Are there different types of radiation therapies? If so, which type would you recommend and why?
- How much experience does this radiation oncologist have in handling laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer cases? How many patients has he treated so far?
- What is the duration of the treatment?
- Where would this treatment be conducted? At a hospital or a clinic?
- For how long will I need to continue this therapy?
- What all side effects should we expect during and post-treatment?
- Explain both the short term and long-term side effects of radiation therapy? Will there be any side effects like permanent difficulty swallowing, loss of taste or loss of saliva?
- Will this treatment affect my eating habits?
- Whom or where should we consult if we experience any side effects or new symptoms?
- What are the ways to prevent and manage these side effects?
Questions to ask regarding the use of medicated therapies:
- Can we use medicated therapies in treating my disease condition?
- What are the types of therapies available? Explain.
- Which therapy type would you recommend and why?
- What is the aim of each therapy?
- In what mode this therapy would be administered? Through a pill or an IV?
- Where would this treatment be conducted? In a hospital, clinic or at my home?
- For how long should I continue this therapy?
- Should I try any clinical trials?
- What all side effects should I expect during and post-treatment?
- Explain both the short term and long-term side effects of medication-assisted therapies?
- What are the ways to prevent and manage these side effects?
Questions to ask regarding planning the follow-up care:
- Is there a chance that laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer may recur back in the body? If so, what is the chance?
- What follow-up check-ups, tests, and scans would be required to analyze my health condition?
- How do we treat such an issue of tumor recurrence?
- Should I watch for specific symptoms or signs that may indicate a possible cancer recurrence?
- How often should I consult a dentist? What kind of dental treatment would I require?
- What changes should I make in my diet?
- How long will I be required to continue this follow-up routine?
- Who will be leading my follow-up care?
- Can I get a summary of my treatment and survivorship care plan to keep in my records for future reference?
- Are there any survivorship support services available for my family and me?