Questions to ask your Oncologist

Eight questions that people with cancer may choose to ask their doctor after diagnosis:

  1. What is my current weight? It is important to know your current weight and compare it to your weight during and after treatment. Screening can predict the probability of better or worse health outcomes.
  2. Is it important for me to maintain my weight during treatment? Cancer and cancer treatment can affect the way your body tolerates certain foods and nutrients, changing your appetite and/or your eating habits.
  3. How can I improve my appetite and nutrition during treatment? Treatment-related side effects like nausea, pain and constipation can result in a loss of appetite. Talking about these issues with your cancer care team and discussing various solutions that would better suit your specific health status, will help you eat better and ensure your overall well-being. A decrease of food consumption should be communicated to your health professional in order for it to be properly addressed.
  4. What do you recommend I eat during treatment? As a cancer patient you should eat well, which means eating a variety of foods to get the nutrients your body needs to fight cancer. The nutrient needs of each individual may vary, consulting with your cancer care team can help you identify your nutrition goals.
  5. Are there any foods I should avoid? Your cancer type, stage and treatment needs should be taken into consideration when deciding which foods, you should avoid. Try having a healthy and balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, stay physically active, limit your alcohol intake,0 stop smoking and protect your skin from sun damage.
  6. What are my options if my normal daily nutritional intake is insufficient? In case your nutritional intake is insufficient, your doctor could prescribe you vitamins, while in more complex and severe cases enteral/parenteral nutrition intervention might be crucial.
  7. Should I be taking vitamins or antioxidants during treatment? Consuming large doses of vitamins or antioxidant supplements is not recommended. Some vitamins and/or herbal supplements can interfere with your therapy. That is why you should always consult with your medical team.
  8. How can I maintain my physical activity during my treatment? Reasonable exercise has the ability to improve anxiety, fatigue and self-esteem. It also benefits the heart, blood vessels, fitness and muscle strength.

Questions about physical activity

To talk about physical activity, start with the health benefits of being active, even for short periods of time, on a regular basis. Consider asking yourself the following types of questions:

  • When would be the best time of day or evening for you to be active?
  • What kinds of activities do you enjoy? Do you like walking? Seated aerobics? Do you prefer activities you can do alone, with someone else, or in a group?”
  • How much time do you spend sitting each day? Would you like to try to work some physical activity into your daily routine

Questions about Survivorship

Many cancer survivors have unanswered questions about what is safe and what is not safe to do regarding eating and exercising, both during and after the completion of treatment. For example, you may be asking yourself the following questions:

  • Should I change what I eat and, if so, how?
  • Should I try to lose or gain weight?
  • Should I take vitamins or other dietary supplements and, if so, which ones?
  • Is it safe for me to exercise?
  • If it is safe for me to exercise, what types of exercises should I do, how often should I exercise and how strenuous should my exercise regimen be?
  • What sources of information on diet and exercise should I seek out and trust?
  • In addition to diet, exercise and weight management, what other lifestyle changes should I make?
  • Should I change my priorities in life?

ECPC-ESMO Patient Guide on Survivorship