Learning all you can about the cancer and your treatment choices can help 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 and nurses are the best people 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.
Doctors are always looking for new ways to treat melanoma. These new methods are tested in clinical trials. Before beginning treatment, ask your doctor if there are any trials you should consider.
At first, the information you receive about treatment options may seem overwhelming. If you have time, 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 record your conversations. It might also help to have a family member or friend with you to take part in 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 is the level and depth of my melanoma? Do I have melanoma in my lymph nodes?
Has the cancer spread anywhere else in my body?
Are there other tests that need to be done before we can decide on treatment?
How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
What are the treatment choices and which treatment do you think is best for me?
What is the risk of recurrence with this treatment?
Over what period of time will I get this treatment?
How long will each treatment take?
What should I do to get ready for the treatment?
Who will give me the treatment?
Does someone need to go with me during treatments?
What side effects might I have during and after treatment?
How long will side effects last?
What can I do to ease the side effects?
Will I have a scar?
Will I be able to go to work and be around my family?
Are there any clinical trials that I am eligible for?
What things can I do now to decrease my risk of recurrence?
Are there support groups nearby that I can join?
What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?