Questions to Ask the Health Care Team About Melanoma

Discussing with your medical practitioner and your health care team is essential to make decisions. You are also suggested to ask many questions that you necessary to you. It can be very beneficial to print the list of the additional questions and bring it to the next appointment. It is crucial to be honest, and have open discussions with your health care team. No matter how small or big the issue or the question seems to be is also helpful to ask a family member or your near and dear ones to come with you to the medical practitioner appointment to help you write down points or notes. 

Questions to ask after getting a diagnosis

  • What is the type or subtype of melanoma I have?
  • Could you perhaps clarify my pathology report to me?
  • What stage of melanoma is it and what exactly does this mean?
  • Is the melanoma’s depth in millimetres?
  • Has the melanoma been infected with ulcers?
  • Is there mitotic activity in melanoma?
  • Is there a chance that the melanoma has spread? If so, why or why not?

When you’re told you have melanoma

  • What is the extent of melanoma’s spread within or beneath the skin? What is the thickness of the melanoma?
  • Is the melanoma spreading to other parts of my body?
  • Will I require any additional testing before we can make a treatment decision?
  • Will I have to see any other medical practitioner?
  • Who can assist me if I am concerned about my diagnosis, treatment costs, and insurance coverage?

Questions to ask about choosing a treatment and managing side effects

  • What options do I have for my treatment?
  • What clinical studies are available for me to participate in? Where are they located, and how can I find out more about them?
  • What treatment plan do you suggest? Why?
  • What are the objectives of each treatment? Is it to cure the disease, make me feel better or both?
  • What are the potential long term and short term side effects of each therapy option? Is there anything that we can do to keep them from happening?
  • Who will be on my medical team, and what will each member do?
  • Who will be in charge of my overall medication?
  • What impact will each treatment have on my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise and go about my routine. 
  • Could this treatment have a significant impact on my sexual life? If so, in what way and for how long?
  • Is it possible that this treatment will impair my capacity to become pregnant or have children? If so, should I consult a reproductive specialist before beginning cancer treatment?
  • Who can assist me if I’m concerned about the price of cancer treatment?
  • What types of assistance are available to me? What about my family?
  • Who should I contact if I have any queries or issues?

When deciding on a treatment plan

  • How long have you been treating this form of cancer?
  • What alternatives do I have for treatment? What are the potential hazards and advantages of each of them?
  • Which treatment do you think is best? Why?
  • What is the primary goal of the treatment?
  • Is it necessary to get a second opinion? If so, how do I go about things? Can you suggest a doctor or cancer centre?
  • How quickly do we need to decide on the treatment?
  • What should I do to be prepared for treatment?
  • How long will treatment be effective? What will the experience be like? Where will it be completed?
  • What risks or side effects should I be aware of? How long do you think they are likely to last?
  • Will I develop a scar as a result of my treatment? What size will it be?
  • Will the treatment have a significant impact on my daily activities?
  • What are the chances of my cancer growing or recurring (coming back) with the treatment options we have discussed? What will we do if this happens?

During treatment

  • How will we know whether the therapy is effective? 
  • Is there anything I can do to help manage side effects?
  • What symptoms or adverse effects should I immediately notify?
  • How can I contact you or someone on your team late at night, on vacations, or at weekends?
  • Are there any restrictions on what I can do?
  • Can you recommend a mental health expert I should see if I start feeling overwhelmed?
  • Can you suggest a mental health professional who can help me out when I feel depressed or distressed?

Questions to ask about having surgery

  • What kind of surgery would you suggest?
  • Should I undergo a sentinel lymph node biopsy to see whether there has been lymph node spread?
  • Is it possible to remove all of the cancer with surgery? Is there a chance I’ll require another surgery? 
  • How long will the procedure last?
  • How long do you think I’ll be in the hospital?
  • Will I need a skin graft once the melanoma is surgically removed?
  • Can you give me an idea of how long it will take me to recuperate following surgery?
  • Who should I contact if I have any adverse side effects? And when is it going to happen?
  • What are the long-term consequences of this procedure?
  • Is there anything else I need to do following the surgery?

Questions to ask about having adjuvant or systemic treatment

  • What kind of treatment is suggested?
  • Is there a BRAF genetic mutation or another recognised mutation in my melanoma? Is immunotherapy or targeted therapy an option?
  • What is the treatment’s purpose?
  • How long will it take for this treatment to complete?
  • Is this treatment something I’ll get at a hospital or a clinic? Or will I take it with me when I get home?
  • What are the possible side effects of treatment?
  • Who should I contact if I have any adverse side effects? And when is it going to happen?
  • What are the long-term consequences of receiving this treatment?
  • What can be done to avoid or manage these negative consequences?

Questions to ask about stage III melanoma

  • Melanoma affects how many lymph nodes?
  • Will the remaining lymph nodes be removed as well? If so, what are the risks associated with lymph node surgery?
  • Is the melanoma spreading beyond the lymph node? In other words extranodal melanoma expansion. What does this imply for my medical care?
  • Is it necessary to get radiation therapy or other treatments following surgery?
  • What are the treatment’s objectives? What is the prognosis for me?

Questions to ask about stage IV melanoma

  • Melanoma has spread throughout the United States. Is a brain scan or a PET-CT scan required to determine the extent of the spread?
  • Is it possible to remove the metastases surgically, especially if only one or two tumours are present? If so, what are the advantages and disadvantages?
  • What are the treatment’s objectives? What is the prognosis for me?
  • How will I lessen my suffering and improve my quality of life by preventing and managing side effects and symptoms?

Questions to ask about planning follow-up care

  • Is there a danger that cancer will return? Should I be on the lookout for any specific signs or symptoms?
  • What can I do to lower my chances of getting a new melanoma or another type of skin cancer?
  • What long-term or late impacts can I experience due to the cancer treatment I received?
  • Which follow-up tests will I require, and how frequently will I require them?
  • How can I obtain a treatment summary and a survivorship care plan for my records?
  • Who will be in charge of my follow-up treatment?
  • What kind of survivorship support services do I have access to? Is it to my family?
  • Do my relatives have a higher chance of having melanoma?