Medical Team Communication

Even if you have a good relationship with your medical team, talking about your cancer experience can be a challenge. However, good communication with your doctors and nurses is important for many reasons. It can help with:

  • gathering clear information about the disease
  • making informed decisions about care
  • expressing feelings and concerns
  • feeling more in control of the situation
  • feeling confident about your care

Tips to help you communicate effectively with your cancer care team

  1. Each person’s communication style is different and what works for one may not work for another. Decide how much or how little information you want to know, and let your doctor know.
  2. You know yourself better than anyone else. It’s important to keep your medical team fully informed about how you are coping, and any new or unusual symptoms you may be experiencing (e.g., changes in your sleep, bowel habits, mood, appetite, memory, sexual function) so they can address your needs and formulate a more individualized treatment plan.
  3. Educate yourself. Knowledge about you disease and treatment options will allow you to make informed decisions.
  4. Come prepared to appointments. Try to write down any questions ahead of time. Make your questions specific and brief, and prioritize them in order of importance.

You can get information from all members of your medical team, not just your doctor. Oncology nurses are very well informed about cancer treatments and are a good source of information on a wide range of topics. Oncology social workers are also available to assist with practical and emotional needs from the time of diagnosis and onwards.