Questions to Ask Your Doctor After Cancer

Published on: 04/6/15

Continue reading to learn more about questions for your doctor after cancer regarding sexual health side effects that you can actually use with your medical teams any time before, during, or after active treatment.

If no one on your medical team has talked about the possibility of sexual health side effects from your cancer treatment, then it’s in your best interest to ask them about it. It’s possible it is written in the literature you’ve been given, but not talked about directly with you. Unfortunately it’s also possible that there are no consistent practice behaviors in place to ensure this is adequately handled with all patients. Because of the sensitive nature of the topic, and because we’re dealing with other humans, it quite possible your medical team is waiting for you to ask the question if you have one. I’ve often described this “communication gap” that exists between patients and providers on this topic, and those are some of the reasons your medical team hasn’t approached you on the topic, but there are other reasons also.

Have you noticed how busy everyone is in the day? Physicians spend 6-8 minutes with us and we often need those minutes directed toward status on the cancer treatment and questions directly related to the physical nature of the cancer. During active treatment we’re in the fight of our lives, right? And it’s also true that until very recently, medical professionals haven’t had formal training on this topic. At an oncology conference I was speaking at last year, a physician told me that he doesn’t ask about sexual health topics because he doesn’t know what resources there are to help? He doesn’t have the answers to the questions patients would ask, so he doesn’t bring it up, and there are several reasons why it’s difficult for patients to ask also.

Patients often don’t know if their sexual health issues are considered medical issues, we don’t always have the medical terminology to describe our concerns, and there is also a concern about being judged or having a negative reaction from our question. We as patients need a safe supportive environment to feel comfortable. A place and time without interruption to describe our specific concerns.

But in the absence of that, I’m going to give you some questions, some examples of questions you can use with your medical teams to get your issues addressed. Use these or use it as a template to edit and develop your own. This will get you started.

These questions can be asked before treatment has started, during, or after. I recommend asking the questions as soon you have any concerns, as sometimes there are things you can be doing to help yourself, or lessen the severity of the symptom.

The following questions for your doctor after cancer can be used by men or women.

The next two are questions specific to female patients or survivors.

The next two questions are specific to men.

If you’re too shy to ask the question, see if your partner will ask for you. There’s also a possibility of electronically asking the questions on “My Chart” online. That way your medical team can do the appropriate research and get back to you with helpful information. Remember, your concerns are not unique, and you’re not the first person to ask these questions. It’s important to get these answers for yourself and your relationship. These are quality of life issues and though it may not feel like the most important concern when you’re battling the cancer during active treatment, as you get back to finding normalcy in your life, having these answers will go a long way to finding intimacy again.

Remember, to visit us at our website where you’ll find great information and resources. Sign up to join the community of survivors struggling with these issues. I’ll send out information, tips, and advice directly to your email inbox. And also remember your questions are welcomed and encouraged. Leave a comment below.

    Craig Regan

    Hi Erin, My name is Craig. I am 60 years old. I live with my wife Janine and three of our four kids (all over 18) in Melbourne, Australia. I completed surgery and treatment for gastro-esophageal cancer about 6 months ago. During treatment, the relationship between Janine and I was closer than it had been in our 27 years of marriage. Due to reactions to immunotherapy and Sepsis from a leak in my sewn up stomach, I got close to death a few times. I know I would not have gotten through without Janine's support. Seeing her walk through the door of my hospital room occasionally sent me into tears of happiness. When I was in intensive care and the tubes and wires stopped us from kissing goodbye, I would ask her to just rest her forehead on mine for a few seconds. It was an intense time. We have both noticed that we've drifted apart since my treatment ended. We're not sure why. We're close to just being friends in the same house. We're not arguing, just not connecting. Perhaps a "let down" was bound to happen as we came through that intense period but we're both troubled by what seems a significant loss of closeness and intimacy, and we're frightened that we may be an example of a couple on "divergent paths in life", even though that seems strange so soon after feeling so close. I read somewhere that someone coming out of cancer has changed, even if they think they haven't. I don't think I've changed much, in fact I get frustrated by the feeling that I am not the shining example of someone with "a new lease on life, a second chance". I am back at work and feeling the same stresses etc that I always did. If I have changed I don't know what the changes might be. I'd be grateful for any advice you can offer. Thank you

    John Doe

    This is so cool.

    Rosemary Guehrn

    Great article Erin. You shed light on an important and often neglected aspect of cancer recovery . Thanks

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