Strategies to Participate in Your Care Plan

  • Ask your care team what resources are available for care decision making, are there online resources, printouts you can take home with you, support groups in your area?

    Types of questions patients have for an oncology nurse navigator

    Michelle Keating
  • Quick Quiz

    I feel my clinician is effectively listening to my needs and incorporating them into my treatment plan:

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  • Patient Communication Tools

    Questions That Patients With Cancer Can Discuss With Their Clinicians

    Questions About Prognosis

    What is the goal of treatment? Is it directly treating the cancer or improving my symptoms, or both?

    How long does the average person with this cancer live? (ask for a timeframe and the most likely scenario)

    How will I feel?

    What is the likelihood of a cure?

    If I cannot be cured, will I live longer with treatment? How much longer?

    Will I feel better or worse?

    Can I receive palliative care focused on maintaining the quality of my and my family's life during my cancer treatment?

    What options do I have if I don't want to continue my cancer treatment?

    When should I think about hospice? Can I meet with hospice now, when I am well?

    How often should we check in about my care plan?

    Questions About Treatment

    What are my treatment options?

    Why do I need this treatment?

    How does this treatment compare with other treatment options?

    What things are likely to happen to me?

    Am I healthy enough to undergo treatment?

    What are the risks and benefits of treatment?

    Are there any side effects?

    Will treatment make me feel better or worse?

    How many times have you done this procedure?

    What is the cost of this treatment?

    What clinical trials are available?

    • What are the potential benefits of clinical trials?
    • Am I eligible to participate?
    • How do I enroll?
    • Which hospital is best for my needs?

    Which clinician(s) will coordinate my care?

    How do you spell the name of that drug?

    Will this medicine interact with medicines that I'm already taking?

    Questions About Advance Care Planning

    Are there things I should be doing to plan ahead?

    • Draft a will?
    • Participate in advance care planning and decide on my advance directives?
    • Choose a health care proxy who can speak for me, if I am unable?
    • Address financial or family legal issues?
    • Appoint a durable power of attorney for financial affairs?
    • Write notes or create DVDs for loved ones?

    Questions About Family, Psychosocial, and Spiritual Needs

    Will you help me talk with my children?

    Who is available to help me cope with this situation?


    Committee on Improving the Quality of Cancer Care: Addressing the Challenges of an Aging Population; Board on Health Care Services; Institute of Medicine; Levit L, Balogh E, Nass S, et al., editors. Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2013 Dec 27. 3, Patient-Centered Communication and Shared Decision Making. Available from:

    End of life care:
  • Quick Quiz

    After reviewing this list of communication tools, do you feel able to participate in SDM with your clinicians?

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