Talking to Your Doctor About Brain Tumors

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it's essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors or experience with brain tumors. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

To 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 your questions ahead of time so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. If you don't, tell the doctor. Ask for educational materials.
  • Ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Brain Tumors

  • What are the statistics on my type of brain tumor?
    • Is it known what caused my type of brain tumor?
    • Will I have any disabilities?
    • What are the chances I will be able to care for myself, and for how long?

About Your Risk of Developing Brain Tumors

  • What are my chances of getting a tumor?
    • Given my exposure to radiation?
    • Given my exposure to possibly toxic chemicals?
    • Given my family medical history?

About Treatment Options

  • With this type of brain tumor, what are my treatment options?
  • Is one or a combination of treatments better for me than others?
  • What are the side effects of the different treatments?
  • What medicines are available to me?
    • What are the benefits and side effects of these medicines?
    • Will these medicines interact with other medicines, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements that I am already taking?
  • Are there any alternative or complimentary therapies that will help me?
  • How long will we plan to treat the tumor?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Should I follow a special diet?
  • Are there any dietary changes I should make? How do I go about it?
  • Should I begin an exercise program?
    • What kind of exercise is best?
    • How often should I exercise?
    • How do I get started exercising?
  • Should I stop drinking alcohol?
  • What should I avoid doing until the treatment is over?
  • Will I have to give up driving?
  • What changes should I expect to make in my job?

About Outlook

  • What should I tell my family, friends, and employer?
  • Can you suggest some support organizations?
  • What is my expected prognosis?
  • How often will I need checkups?
  • What are the chances my brain tumor will come back?
  • Who can help me with finding a support group and getting legal assistance if I have trouble at my job?
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References:

Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Questions to ask about adult brain and spinal cord tumors. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/brain-spinal-cord-tumors-adults/detection-diagnosis-staging/talking-with-your-doctor.html. Updated November 7, 2017. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Questions to ask your doctor about cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/questions. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 8/10/2018

 

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