VarianVarian

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Proton Therapy

This suggested list of recommended questions is only a guide and you will likely have other questions that you will want to ask your doctor.

Disease and Treatment

  • What type of tumor do I have? Is it benign or malignant?
  • What stage is my cancer?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Why is radiation used to treat my type of cancer? Would proton therapy be appropriate for my cancer?
  • How many sessions of treatment will I need?
  • If brachytherapy is appropriate for me, what are the most frequent and most serious side effects I can expect?
    • How long will side effects last?
    • Is there anything we can do to reduce the chances of experiencing side effects or reducing their severity?
  • When will treatment start?
    • How long is each treatment?
    • When will it end?
    • How often will I have treatments?
    • How long will each treatment last?
  • What will happen if I don't have treatment?
  • Will I also need other treatments, such as chemotherapy, surgery, or hormone therapy?
    • If so, when will I receive them?
    • In what order?
  • Will the treatment hurt?

Quality of Life

  • Will I be able to continue my normal activities during treatment?
    • If not, how soon after treatment will I be able to resume them?
      • Work?
      • Sexual activity?
      • Aerobic exercise?
  • What is the chance that the cancer will spread if I do not have treatment?
  • How will I feel during treatment?
  • Will I be able to drive myself to and from treatment?
  • What can I do to take care of myself before, during, and after treatment?
  • Will proton therapy affect my sex life or my ability to have children?
  • Will I need a special diet during or after my treatment?
    • Is it safe to take vitamins during treatment?
    • Are there special lotions or deodorants that I should or shouldn't use?

Prognosis and Survival

  • What is the goal of treatment?
  • What is the prognosis (probable outcome) for people with this stage of cancer?
  • What is the probability that proton therapy will work for me?
  • It if works, what are the chances that the cancer will come back?
  • How will we know the treatment is working?
  • What are survival rates for my type and stage of cancer?
  • After my treatment is completed, how often will I need to return for check-ups?

Questions about your Team and Treatment Facility

  • Do I need a referral to see a proton therapy physician?
  • Why has proton therapy not been offered as a treatment option for me?
  • How many patients have you treated with my specific form of cancer?
    • What were their outcomes?
  • Does this facility offer all of the treatment methods that will be used in fighting my cancer, or will I have to go to multiple treatment facilities?
  • Does this facility offer any support groups I can turn to during and after treatment?
  • Is there a dietician I can work with?
  • What other services are available to help me and my family deal with this disease?
  • What are reasons I should call you at night or on a weekend?
    • Whom do I call and at what phone number?

Insurance

  • Is proton therapy more expensive than standard radiation therapy?
  • Do health insurance plans cover proton therapy?
  • What if I don’t have insurance, but want proton therapy?
  • If my insurer denies my proton therapy treatment, do you have services to help me with an appeal?