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My 71 year old dad was diagnosed with stage 1b non small cell 2 weeks ago. We met with the surgeon last week (my sister-in-law & I didn't like him). Tomorrow we meet with the chemo doctors. When we were talking to the surgeon we were so confused. I need to be better prepared this time. I don't even know the right questions to ask, heck I don't even know my own name half the time anymore.

If anyone could point me in the direction of a list of questions to ask I would really appreciate it.

Thank you so much.

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Sorry that you have to be here but glad you found us. When you go to the appointments if you can take someone with you. Also something that was a great deal of help even though there were 2 of us there was we took a small tape recorder. With everything that is going on even with 2 people there you can miss something so having the tape to refer to was a big help. You want to know what the treatment plan is and what drugs will be administered. If he does chemo he might consider having a port a cath put in. Its a simple outpatient surgery and will help with the treatments. There are many others on here who will give you more info. Our prayers are with you and your dad.


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To know what top ask the oncologist and Learn more try Richs List of questions.......

General information

What causes this type of cancer?

What are the risk factors for this disease?

Is this type of cancer caused by genetic factors? Are other members of my family at risk?

How many people are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year?

What lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, rest) do you recommend I make to best manage my disease?


What are some common symptoms of this type of cancer?

How can I avoid symptoms and/or reduce their impact on my daily activities?

Is there anything I can do to make my symptoms better?

Are there activities I should avoid that may make the symptoms worse?

If new symptoms arise or existing symptoms worsen, what do you recommend I do?


What diagnostic tests or procedures are necessary? How often?

What will these tests tell me about my cancer?

How can I prepare myself for any tests or procedures?

Is this test done in a doctor's office, or do I need to go to the hospital?

How much information concerning my diagnosis should I share, and at what time, with my friends and loved ones?

If I seek a second opinion, will I have to repeat any tests or procedures?


How is staging used to determine cancer treatment?

What is the stage of my cancer? What does this mean?

Is my disease expected to progress?

What is my prognosis (chance of recovery)?

What are the cure rates for my disease?

What are the survival rates for my disease?

Could my disease go into remission?


Keep in mind that all treatments offer risks and benefits. Discuss these with your doctor and consider your medical history and current condition in deciding whether the treatment approach is appropriate for you.

What is the recommended treatment for my disease?

Is this a standard treatment?

Are there treatment options beyond the standard treatment for this disease?

How often and how long will I have to undergo treatment?

Are there any side effects of treatment?

What are the benefits versus the risks of treatment?

Has my cancer spread? If so, how does this affect treatment decisions?

What are the expected results of treatment?

How long does each treatment take?

Is the treatment painful? What can you do to make it less painful?

What will be involved in recovery? How long will I have to stay in the hospital?

When can I resume my normal activities?

Clinical trials

What are clinical trials?

How do clinical trials help people with cancer?

Am I eligible for any clinical trials for this type of cancer?

How will my progress be tracked while participating in a clinical trial?

What happens if my disease progresses or is not treated effectively while participating in a clinical trial?

How is treatment paid for if I participate in a clinical trial?

Where can I get more information on clinical trials?


Is there a social worker that I can talk to?

Where can I find information on coping with my diagnosis?

Where can I find emotional, psychological, and spiritual support?

Where can I find financial support?

How can I best minimize the psychological impact of this disease on my family and myself?

Where can I find resources for children? For teenagers?

Follow-up care

Who should I call with questions or concerns during non-business hours?

Where can I find more information about my cancer?

May I contact you or the nurse to talk about additional information I find?

Is there anything else I should be asking?

Some of these questions were developed in collaboration with CancerCare, a national cancer patient service organization. In addition, see specific questions in the "Questions to Ask the Doctor" section of each cancer type.

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The oncologist should make things much clearer for you when you meet. Your dad is very fortunate his cancer was found early and he is a candidate for surgery. Let us know how the appointment goes. Take good notes or record it because you won't remember it all later.

Welcome to the board.


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Welcome to the LCSC! Randy gave you a great list of questions. Remember that it is important to trust all of your physicians. If you don't like this surgeon, trust your instinct and searh for another one. The decisions you will be helping your father make are critical. Your father's cancer was caught early, so if he is otherwise healthy don't be afraid to ask for aggressive treatment.

Please ask questions. Someone here will likely had the same questions in the past or had experience with the issue. We love to help!


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Just wanted to welcome you to our online family. It looks like Randy has covered the questions. You will find a wealth of knowledge here to help through this journey.

God Bless!!


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I understand the confusion that you are going through, when I was in Texas helping my mom, I didn't know my name either most of the time. I am glad that your dad's cancer was caught early enough that there is a plan for surgery. I was told one of the best things to do when you are at an appointment is to bring a tape recorder, that helped me. Best of luck to your family and my prayers are with you.

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Hello Madam!!!

I cannot add one other thing to ALL the excellent advice already given. I just wanted to stop in and welcome you to a wonderful group of folks here. Well, maybe just ONE thing I would say........remember to step back and BREATHE from time to time. Remember we are here to help you through.


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Glad you found this site, the folks are wonderful. I think Randy posted just about every possible question you could ask a doctor. Before you ask some of those questions please make sure you understand just how much information your dad wants to hear. I am half ostrich ... I knew I had inoperable adneocarcinoma non-small cell lung cancer and that was that. I did NOT want to know the stage, prognosis, or much else. It is what it is and as long as my doctor is willing to try and beat the beast with whatever method they can and I am willing to fight the fight then that was all I needed to know. It sounds like they caught your dads cancer early and that is great. Best of luck and remember to keep us informed and take care of yourself as well as your father.

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Hi and welcome. I found that my oncologists and pulmonologist seemed to be more willing to spend time with me. My surgeons, although very good, gave me a sense of not wanting to be chatty. They were thorough at the consultations, but their forte is not really patient contact I thought.

I started out with stage 1b. Since you talked with the surgeon, it looks like your dad is a candidate. The surgeon will want to have your dad's pulmonary capacity checked. He won't proceed with surgery unless a pulmonologist says your dad can handle the surgery and be able to function after the surgery. He will also have an electrocardiogram (EKG) to make sure his heart can withstand the surgery. If the tumor is contained in just one lobe, he will have a lobectomy. Sometimes more than one lobe is affected and he could lose an entire lung on the left or if it on the right lung, 2 lobes or all 3 lobes could be gone. The right lung is bigger than the left lung. The right lung has 3 lobes while the left lung has 2 lobes. That would be the number one question I think. How much lung is going to be lost? The risk is not too great if the heart is ok and the pulmonary capacity is ok. I don’t remember for sure what it is, but I think the mortality risk is around 5%. I kind of ignored it when I had my surgeries. When I had my second surgery, they took out the rest of my left lung and I had to be on oxygen for a month. That could be a possibility for your dad, having to be on oxygen for a while. If it is just a lobectomy, he will likely do ok. Be sure to have the anesthesiologist use an epidural because that has been shown to prevent long-term postoperative pain and also helps manage the immediate pain after an operation. The epidural or any other pain med will suppress the ability to urinate or have bowel movements. I tried to get the catheter out of me as soon as possible so that I could get my body adjusted to peeing by itself again. Removing the epidural as soon as possible helps, but you have to balance elimination problems with managing pain.

The surgeon will check the lymph nodes at the mediastinum (the area between the lungs)to see if they are malignant. If they are, he will probably not complete the surgery and your dad would be restaged to 3a. He would then recover and have chemo and radiation. Many people with 3a will have surgery after conventional treatment. Surgeons remove lymph nodes and have them tested by a pathologist at surgery. The results are immediate. Sometimes they can be swollen, but not malignant. Sometimes all the mediastinal lymph nodes can be removed just to be sure, and they are tested for malignancy. Other surgeons may just remove a sample of lymph nodes to be tested. Our bodies will not miss 15 or so lymph nodes.

The tumor will be sent in for a thorough test and the staging may be refined. They will also check the healthy part of the lung that has been removed to see if there are any malignant lymph nodes within the lung. If there are, I think that affects the staging. Having malignant lymph nodes in the lung is not as bad as having them outside the lung. They will also check the lung or lobe in pathology to make sure there was a good margin of healthy tissue around the tumor. I think they like to see a minimum of a cm or 2 of healthy tissue around the tumor. If your dad has a lobectomy, he will wake up with a tube in his chest to drain fluid between the remaining lobe and the chest wall. He will have to be sure to cough a lot during recovery to get the gunk out of his lung to make sure no pneumonia comes in. If he has the entire lung removed, there will be no chest tube.

I think the oncologist will recommend chemo after surgery since it is stage 1b. I did not have chemo after my stage 1b and first cancer and wish that I had done it. It might have stopped my cancer from coming back, but there is no way to tell for sure. I had chemo after my second cancer and third cancer. It was not too hard.

Good luck to your and your dad.

Don M

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