Questions to Ask Your Doctor After a Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis

Nov 9 • 2015

Almost 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year. Although it is not one of the most common cancers, it often spreads silently which can make it extremely deadly. Because of this, early detection is extremely important.

There are two major kinds of pancreatic cancer: exocrine and endocrine tumors. An exocrine tumor makes up almost 90% of all pancreatic cancers and occurs when the tumors grow in the cells that line the ducts in the pancreas. Endocrine tumors are not as common, but when they occur they create hormones like insulin, which controls your blood sugar.

If you’ve received a pancreatic cancer diagnosis from your doctor, there are likely hundreds of questions revolving in your mind. It is extremely important that you understand what the diagnosis means and how things will proceed in order to relieve as much stress as possible. Writing your questions down can help ensure that you don’t forget to ask anything.

Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about:

  • Which kind of pancreatic cancer you have
  • What stage of cancer you have and whether it has spread from its origin
  • If you need other kinds of tests or need to see another type of doctor and if so, who he recommends
  • What kind of treatment options are available, as well as which one he recommends for you personally and why
  • How much experience he has with your specific kind of cancer
  • How your day-to-day life will be impacted by treatment and any side effects you may experience
  • When treatment should start, how long it will last, where it will take place
  • What steps you’ll need to take if the cancer comes back or if the treatment is unsuccessful
  • Where you can find a support group or similar option in your area

The most important thing to remember is that no pancreatic cancer question is off limits. Your doctor wants you to understand this disease as much as possible. The more information on pancreatic cancer you have, the more you will be able to make informed decisions about what steps to take next.