Answers To Your Most Common Questions


Where can I find out more about my type of cancer?
In addition to the Hughes Cancer Center Web site, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society are very good resources for information on specific types of cancer.

How can I learn about my treatment options?
When your oncologist meets with you to go over your diagnosis and cancer stage information, they will also explain all of the treatment options available to you and will answer any questions you have at that time. If you have any questions about your treatment options after your appointment, please be sure to ask your physician at your next appointment or call the Cancer Center to speak with a nurse oncologist who will be happy to answer your questions.

The physicians and staff of the Hughes Cancer Center understand that this is a difficult time in your life, and we are dedicated to helping you understand all of your options and to making sure that you are completely comfortable with the method of treatment you choose. If you have questions at any time, we encourage you to ask. It may help you to write down your questions and bring them along when you meet with your physician. You may also wish to bring a friend or family member to your appointment to ensure that you ask all of the questions you have and to help you remember the answers your physician provides.

If you would like to research treatment options on your own, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society have extensive databases of information for you to review.

The physicians and staff of the Hughes Cancer Center understand that this is a difficult time in your life, and we are dedicated to helping you understand all of your options and to making sure that you are completely comfortable with the method of treatment you choose. If you have questions at any time, we encourage you to ask. It may help you to write down your questions and bring them along when you meet with your physician. You may also wish to bring a friend or family member to your appointment to ensure that you ask all of the questions you have and to help you remember the answers your physician provides.

If you would like to research treatment options on your own, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society have extensive databases of information for you to review. 

Where can I find out about clinical trials for my type of cancer?
The Hughes Cancer Center participates in a number of clinical trials. To find out more about available clinical trials related to your type of cancer, please email: Ann.Foster@lvhn.org

You can also visit the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Clinical Trials search engine to search your area for available clinical trials by entering your type of cancer and zip code.

How can I help a loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer?
A cancer diagnosis not only affects the patient emotionally and physically, but also impacts their relationships with family and friends as well. It is important to many cancer patients that their friends and loved ones continue to treat them in a normal way. It is not necessary to always talk about cancer or about their treatment. Include them in social events and activities and if they don't feel up to it, allow them to make the decision to decline.

Offer to help in specific ways rather than saying "call me if you need something." Some suggestions for helping a loved one with cancer are listed below.

  • Accompany them to appointments.
  • Offer to research information on treatment options, support groups or clinical trials.
  • Help them with everyday tasks such as cleaning, shopping and cooking.
  • Send or prepare a meal.
  • Arrange a schedule of meal deliveries with family members or friends.
  • Spend time with them and talk with them about their concerns.
  • Offer support, encouragement and a shoulder to lean on.
  • Be optimistic.
  • Be a good listener; sit quietly while they talk or cry or shout. Grief, fear, anger and depression are all common emotions for the newly diagnosed.
  • Offer to help with childcare or arrange for day care pick-ups.
  • Help them relieve stress by renting a funny video, attending an uplifting movie or play or spending time outdoors.
  • If they need it, help them find outside assistance such as certified nursing assistants or home health aides or seek help through local churches that may be able to assist with housekeeping, cleaning and other chores.
  • Encourage them to get adequate sleep and to eat regular meals as much as possible.
  • Put them in contact with other cancer patients or survivors in your area. Ask their physician or contact the American Cancer Society for information.
  • Offer a ride to and from treatment appointments.
  • Help run errands.
  • Offer to take phone calls if your friend is feeling tired and needs to rest.
  • Coordinate visits with family and friends so that the patient isn't overburdened with having visitors in their home. If necessary, be the person who tells visitors that your friend needs rest so that they don’t have to be embarrassed or feel like they are throwing people out.
  • Send flowers or a card to brighten their day.
  • Call before you visit to make sure they are feeling up for you to come.
  • Make contributions to related charities, organize blood drives or make special efforts in his or her name.
  • If they will be in the hospital, offer to take care of their home and/or pets while they are away.
  • If appropriate, plan a party when treatment is finished or on anniversary dates.
  • Be yourself and don't worry about whether you are doing things right.
  • Let your words and your actions come from your heart. Your compassion and genuine caring are the most important things you can convey to your loved one right now.

With all of the information I am getting, how do I remember what my physician says?
When you are anxious or afraid, it is hard to listen well and understand complex information. Even if your physician is careful to explain the information to you, you may not hear or remember what is being said.

There are several ways you can make sure that you remember everything your doctor tells you:

  • Take notes to help you recall what your doctor says.
  • Ask if you can tape record your talk for later review.
  • Have a family member or friend accompany you to appointments. They can remind you of questions you want to ask and help you remember later what the doctor said. It may also be easier to have this person keep your family informed of your medical status. This will help your family to feel included without burdening you with many questions. You may want their help in making decisions so keeping them up-to-date may be in your best interest.
  • If your physician uses a term you don't understand, ask him/her to explain it to you.

How do I make a decision on a treatment?
In order to make the best decision for your type and stage of cancer as well as your personal preferences, it is important that you have all of the relevant information available to you. It is important to ask your physician or nurse any questions you may have. It is a good idea to write them down so that you don't forget and take notes on the answers so you can review them later. You might also want to take someone with you to your appointment so that they can also hear the same information and maybe assist you in your decision or at least help you remember all of the information your physician provides.

The Hughes Cancer Center has a wide variety of brochures and literature on all types of cancer and treatment options. Ask your physician or nurse to show you where this information is located. And be sure to visit the Cancer Center's Resources page.

The American Cancer Society has an excellent resource called the NexProfiler Treatment Options Tool, which can help you make an informed decision about your treatment. Based on the information you provide about your type of cancer, the tool will give you a comprehensive report designed to help you make a decision about treatment. It takes about 30 minutes to complete the questionnaire and the report is available immediately online. When finished, you can print the report and take it along to your next appointment. The information in the report is clearly organized with items marked that you may wish to further discuss with your physician. You can complete the questionnaire for yourself, a friend or a family member, and the service is completely free and confidential.

To use this tool, visit the American Cancer Society online and search for “NexProfiler.”

What kind of side effects could I experience from treatment?
Depending on the type of treatment you receive, there are a variety of side effects you may or may not experience. Some common side effects include fatigue, anemia, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, weight loss, loss of appetite, itching or other problems. It is important to note that not everyone suffers from side effects. Your oncology nurse can describe the side effects you might experience and how they can be managed or avoided.

Should I get a second opinion?
A second opinion is a common step some people take as they make decisions about treatment. After you have met with your physician and a treatment plan has been offered to you, you may want to seek a second opinion from a different physician who will review your case. A second opinion is helpful to confirm the initial plan, suggest other treatment options and to answer your questions about the treatments presented to you. You should feel confident in asking your physician where you can go for a second opinion because your physician wants to make sure you understand all of information presented to you and are comfortable making a decision about treatment.

layout graphic