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Questions to Ask About Treatment for Kidney Cancer

It helps to learn all you can about your disease and treatment choices. It helps you take an active part in decisions about your medical care. Discuss these choices with your doctor, other health care professionals, and loved ones. Your doctor is the best person to answer your questions about treatment. Make sure you ask how the treatment will change your daily life, including your diet, and how you will look and feel after treatment. Ask how successful the treatment is expected to be, and what the risks and possible side effects are. You may also want to ask what your options will be if the cancer comes back, which is called a recurrence.

In addition, you may want to consider getting a second opinion before beginning treatment. Certain health insurance companies require a second opinion for such diagnoses. According to the American Cancer Society, it is very rare that the time it will take to get a second opinion will have a negative impact on your treatment. The peace of mind a second opinion provides may be well worth the effort. 

At first, the information you receive about treatment options may seem overwhelming. You may find it helpful to make a list of your questions before seeing your doctor. To make it easier to remember what the doctor says, you may want to take notes during meetings with your doctor or ask if you can use a tape recorder. It is also very helpful to have a family member or friend with you to take part in the discussion, to take notes, or just to listen. Use the list of questions below as a starting place for the questions you might ask:

  • What treatment do you think is best for me?

  • What are the goals of the treatment you are recommending?

  • What is the success rate of this particular treatment for my type and stage of kidney cancer?

  • Can I take my other medicines during the treatment period?

  • What is the length of the treatment period?

  • How long will each treatment take?

  • Where do I have to go for the treatment?

  • Who is involved in giving me the treatment?

  • Does someone need to go with me during treatments?

  • How will I feel after the treatment?

  • What side effects can I expect?

  • How long will side effects last?

  • Are there side effects that I need to call you about?

  • What can I do to ease the side effects?

  • Will I be able to continue my normal activities, such as going to work and being around my family?

  • Are there any clinical trials I should look into?

  • Are there support groups nearby that I can join?

  • Should I change my diet? What foods can't I eat?

Doctors are also researching new ways to treat kidney cancer. These new methods are tested in clinical trials. Before beginning treatment, ask your doctor if there are any clinical trials you should consider.

Here are some ways you can find information about clinical trials for kidney cancer:

  • Call the Kidney Cancer Association at 800-850-9132 or visit www.kidneycancer.org.

  • Call the National Cancer Institute at 800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237).

  • Visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.

  • Call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.