Young Adults and Cancer: Communicating with Your Healthcare Team

When going through cancer treatment, your healthcare team is very important. Your healthcare team may include your oncologist, radiologist, surgeon, nurses, dietitians, and social workers. Every member or your healthcare team plays an important role in your journey.

Here are some tips for talking with your doctor:

  • You need to be open and honest with your doctor about your physical and emotional well-being.
    • A good relationship with your doctor makes your cancer journey easier.
  • Do not be afraid to ask your doctor questions.
    • There are no dumb questions. Your doctor wants you to have a full understanding of what’s going on with your body but is relying on you to ask when you don’t understand.
    • Your doctor may have a simple answer, but you won’t know unless you ask.
  • Do not be afraid to seek a second opinion.
  • If you develop any new problems during your treatment, tell your doctor as soon as possible.
    • For example, if you are feeling nauseous because of chemotherapy, your doctor may be able to prescribe medication to help. Don’t think of it as complaining; your doctor needs to know about changes in your feelings.
  • Do not drastically change your diet, begin an exercise program, or start taking new medications without talking to your doctor first.
  • Write things down.
    • Take written questions to your appointments so you don’t forget.
    • Take a pen and paper to your appointments to take notes.
    • It’s sometimes helpful to take a friend or family member to help you take notes.
  • You should be sure to talk to your doctor about the following before you begin treatment:
    • Clinical trials
      • Young adult participation in clinical trials is very important because clinical trials help improve treatments.
      • With a clinical trial, you will always receive at least the standard treatment, but you may have the opportunity to receive a treatment that may be better than what is currently approved for your cancer type.
    • Secondary malignancies
      • Certain cancer treatments may increase your risk for other cancers.
    • Fertility risks
      • Certain cancer treatments may affect your ability to have children in the future. You do have options to preserve your fertility, but many must take place before treatment begins.
      • For more information about fertility, visit http://www.fertilehope.org/.

To learn more about young adult concerns, return to Young Adults and Cancer guidance page.