1. The Cervical Cancer StageAfter cervical cancer has been confirmed, several tests are then done to determine what stage the cancer is in. The stage categorizes how far the disease has spread. There are five stages, beginning at stage 0.
2. Treatment OptionsTreatment options vary from woman to woman. Doctors take the stage of cervical cancer and general health of the patient into consideration when developing treatment options. There are some instances where there may be a few different choices in the type of treatment you will undergo, and the doctor may strongly recommend one course of treatment.
3. Suggested TreatmentIf your doctor has suggested a treatment plan for you, ask why it is favored over other treatment methods. You may also want to ask the success rate of the recommended treatment method in women with similar cases of cervical cancer.
If your doctor recommends surgery, you should inquire about how frequently he or she performs the surgery and compare this to other specialists' numbers.
4. Treatment Side Effects/Effect on Daily LivingBefore beginning any cancer treatment, it is important to know how it will affect your quality of life and daily living activities. Issues like caring for children, going to work, and maintaining hobbies or interests are common concerns for newly diagnosed cancer patients.
5. Start of Treatment and PreparationThe doctor will let you know when he or she would like you to begin treatment. Ask if there are any ways you can prepare for treatment beforehand. For example, if you are scheduled for surgery, do you have to go to pre-op appointments for blood work or other tests? Should you follow a certain diet before beginning chemotherapy?
6. Second OpinionsIt is easy for patients to feel like they are committing "patient infidelity" against their doctor when they choose to seek the opinion of another. The truth is that most doctors understand and support their patients need for a second opinion. Women who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer often seek the second opinion of a gynecologist oncologist. This is an oncologist that specializes in treating gynecological cancer, like cervical cancer.
Many insurance companies require a second opinion or review by one of their staff physicians before treatment begins.
7. Financial Costs and Insurance CoverageNow that you have had all of your questions answered by the doctor, it is time to find out how you will pay for treatment. This is an extremely important issue that needs to be addressed before treatment begins.
A financial representative from the doctor's office or hospital will meet with you and discuss the cost of the recommended treatment. He or she will tell you what is/isn't covered by insurance. Medications and services not covered by insurance may be covered by state aid or grants. The financial representative will let you know how to apply for aid and grants or refer you to the hospital social worker.