Question checklist

You may find these questions helpful when thinking about what to ask your doctor about surgery. If your doctor gives you answers that you don't understand, ask for clarification.

Treatment choice and informed consent

  • Why do I need surgery?
  • Do I have a choice of treatments?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of surgery for me?
  • How successful is this type of surgery for this type of cancer?
  • Are there any clinical practice guidelines on how to treat thistype of cancer?
  • How much does the surgery cost? Are there any extra costs I should know about, such as costs related to anaesthesia?
  • Can I talk to someone who has had this surgery?
  • Can I get a second opinion?
  • Will I need other treatment before or after surgery?

The surgery

  • What type of surgery will I have, e.g. open surgery or keyhole surgery?
  • What exactly will you do during the operation? Will you remove part of the tumour or all of the cancer?
  • How long will the surgery take?
  • Could your plans to operate on me change? Why?
  • What anaesthetic will I receive? How will it be given? When will I meet the anaesthetist?
  • What are the potential risks and complications?
  • Will I need a blood transfusion?
  • Where will I have the surgery?

Side effects and recovery

  • What are the effects of the surgery (e.g. will it affect my mobility, diet, ability to work, sex life)? What are the long-term effects?
  • Will I have tubes and drains?
  • Will I have any pain? How will it be managed?
  • How long will I be in hospital?
  • Will I need rehabilitation? Will I have it as an inpatient or outpatient?
  • When I go home, will I be provided with written information about my after-care?
  • What problems should I look out for when I go home? Who should I contact if they occur?
  • How often will I need check-ups?
  • What kind of support is available to people who have this type of surgery?

Information about the surgeon

  • Do you work in a multidisciplinary team (MDT)?
  • Who will be in charge of my care?
  • Do you specialise in this type of surgery? How were you trained?
  • How many times have you done this surgery?
  • Which hospitals do you operate in?


Expert content reviewers:

A/Prof Gavin Wright, Director, Surgical Oncology, St Vincent’s Hospital, VIC; Mr Chip Farmer, Colorectal Surgeon, The Alfred Hospital, Cabrini Hospital and The Avenue Hospital, VIC; Carmen Heathcote, Cancer Support Advisor, 13 11 20, Cancer Council Queensland, QLD; Anna Hrynko, Consumer; Georgie Palmer, Physiotherapist, Physiofit, TAS; Karen Redman, Breast Care Nurse Practitioner, Breast/Endocrine Surgical Oncology, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, SA; Dr Shomik Sengupta, Urologist, Sengupta Urology, VIC; Dr Anica Vasic, Head, Pain Management Unit, St George Hospital, NSW.

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