5 Questions To Ask Your Surgical Oncologist

Surgical Oncologist Marlton, NJ

Cancer is a devastating disease, and surgery is often recommended for its many forms. Consulting with a surgical oncologist helps you understand your recommended procedure and clear any misconceptions about the surgery and the specific type of cancer. Here are common questions and answers people may have when speaking with a  surgical oncologist.

What is a surgical oncologist?

Many people are surprised to learn of the three major types of oncologists: medical, radiation, and surgical. A surgical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in surgery and treating cancer. When visiting a surgical oncologist, also called a thoracic surgeon, patients benefit from having a doctor who has expertise in surgery and knowledge and training in other cancer treatment options, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. While all oncologists are trained in cancer and its many forms, only a surgical oncologist can perform the most complex treatment options.

What to expect during a surgical consultation

During the consultation, the patient must fill out paperwork and answer questions regarding their medical history. This paperwork may also include a form asking permission for the surgical oncologist to run additional tests or procedures required for diagnosis and treatment.

The oncologist will examine the patient, including taking a biopsy if necessary. Afterward, the oncologist and patient will discuss the most effective treatment options. This is the time for the patient to bring up any questions or concerns about their diagnosis and recommended treatment plan.

Questions to ask during a consultation with a surgical oncologist

1. What tests do you require? What are you trying to find?

After a consultation, surgery is not always automatically scheduled. The surgical oncologist may want to order more tests. Patients will likely undergo blood work and have an MRI or CT scan. Depending on the type of cancer, the surgeon may order other tests. The reason is that the surgeon is trying to discover more about the type of cancer the patient has and any other underlying health condition that may inhibit the treatment plan.

2. What are my odds if I do not have this surgery?

One of the main reasons to ask a surgical oncologist about the odds of not having a recommended surgery is to ensure that one is making an informed decision regarding their treatment plan. Surgery is a major medical procedure with risks, such as bleeding, infection, and complications from anesthesia.

In addition to associated risks, the surgical oncologist can give one an idea of their success rate after surgery. The goal of any cancer treatment is remission. This question opens the door for the patient to know the likelihood of achieving that goal.

3. How do I need to prepare for my surgery?

This question helps to ensure the patient knows what to expect when surgery day arrives. Some surgeries require the patient to have a ride home; others require a hospital stay. Additionally, if a patient requires extended downtime, the surgeon can recommend how much time to take off from work or school.

The surgeon may also provide or recommend the patient to purchase certain supplies to keep at home to help them during recovery. If the patient is prohibited from eating the night before the surgery and medication must be purchased, the surgeon will inform the patient during this appointment.

4. Will I need to continue treatment after surgery?

The main goal of surgery is to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. However, sometimes the oncologist may perform a surgery solely as a diagnostic tool to see how advanced a patient's disease is before deciding on further treatment (chemotherapy, radiation therapy).

Radiation uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill tumor cells, effectively shrinking tumors. Chemotherapy uses drugs to target cancer. It kills or significantly slows the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or stopping them from dividing.

5. How can I identify infection?

Infection is a risk for any surgery and sometimes takes a while to manifest. Asking this question during the consultation helps prepare patients and their caregivers for what to do if infection occurs. Some common signs of infection include:

  • A wound that smells bad
  • Seeping pus
  • Fever or chills
  • Incision site that is warm to the touch
  • Prolonged swelling at the incision site
  • Increased drainage

If an infection occurs, the surgeon will advise the patient when to call their office or seek emergency medical attention. Often, the surgeon will give the patient an emergency number to their office for just-in-case scenarios.

Consult a surgical oncologist

Remember, you are your own best advocate. By asking questions and discussing your concerns with a surgical oncologist, you will play an active role in your road to remission. Contact our office if you or a loved one needs to consult a surgical oncologist. Our team is here to answer any questions and schedule all necessary appointments.

Request an appointment here: https://lindenbergcancer.com or call Lindenberg Cancer & Hematology Center at (856) 475-0876 for an appointment in our Marlton office.

Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Surgical Oncologist in Marlton, NJ.

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