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Talking to Your Doctor About Melanoma

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with melanoma. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Melanoma

  • What is the stage of my melanoma?
  • Was it caught early or has it spread?

About Your Risk of Developing Melanoma

  • Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for melanoma?

About Treatment Options

  • How do I best treat melanoma?
    • What other options are there?
    • What are the risks and benefits associated with this treatment plan?
  • How long will the treatment last?
  • What side effects can I expect?
  • What will I need to change in my daily routine?
  • How will I feel during treatment?
  • What will I need to do to take care of myself during the treatment period?
  • What will we do if the treatment does not succeed?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Do I need to stay out of the sun?
  • Do I have to give up swimming and other outdoor recreation?
  • How can I protect myself if I work outdoors?

About Your Outlook

  • How likely is it that my treatments will kill all the cancer cells?
  • How will I know if my treatment program is effective?
  • Should I consider participating in a clinical trial?
  • Do you know of any other patients I can talk with or support groups I can join?
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References:

Melanoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115302/Melanoma. Updated January 10, 2017. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Tips for talking to your doctor. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated May 2014. Accessed March 16, 2017.
What should you ask your health care team about melanoma skin cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/melanoma-skin-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/talking-with-doctor.html. Updated May 20, 2016. Accessed March 16, 2017.
Last reviewed March 2017 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 10/11/2016

 

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