What Should I Ask My Doctor Once Diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer?

Read Transcript

I think the most important question to ask your doctor is are you a gynecological oncologist because we know that gynecological oncologists have the most experience in treating these patients. And studies have shown that patients that are treated by gynecological oncologists do better than when they are not treated by gynecological oncologist.

And it may sound self evident that that should be the case but believe it or not there's a lot of places in the United States that don't have access readily to gynecologic oncologists. They are not in every town and every state and so sometimes patients do have to travel some portion of time to find a trained gynecological oncologist but I think that would be in their best interest.

And the first thing that I would do is find is a gynecological oncologist hopefully board certified, trained, and reviewed. Second question that would be important to ask is how experienced is the person that's managing the treatment. Your doctor has some certain experience and certain background, but you want to get an idea, is it something that they see everyday, is it something that's not very common in their practice.

I would assume that most patients would do better being treated by physicians that have a higher volume of patient care in that field. I think it's important to ask the difficult questions when I ask about what's going to happen in the future, it's important to plan ahead. If you think surgery is going lead to chemotherapy as a follow up, intervention, that would be good to know ahead of times so that you can plan forward.

So the things that can reduce amount of surprises that are coming up ahead would be very important because I think most patients will tell you that having that smooth transition from treatments is more important than not knowing what's coming. if it's obvious to the physician that's coming and they could tell you.

For chemotherapy patients, definitely ask about side effects. Side effects of chemotherapy vary depending on the types of chemotherapy agents we use, knowing the side effects ahead of time, knowing what to anticipate is very important, not only for yourself but also for the people around you. If you're working for example you can notify your employer, if you have kids in school you can make plans for the kids if you're not able to perhaps pick them up from school these kinds of things.

You want to be able to plan accordingly, and knowing some of the toxicities of what treatments are out there would be an important first step.