Breast Cancer - Metastatic: Questions to Ask the Health Care Team

Approved by the Lineagotica Editorial Board, 05/2018

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some questions to ask your doctor or other members of the health care team, to help you better understand your diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall care. Use the menu to see other pages.

Talking often with the health care team is important to make informed decisions about your health care. These suggested questions are a starting point to help you learn more about your cancer care and treatment. You are also encouraged to ask additional questions that are important to you. You may want to print this list and bring it to your next appointment. You can also download Lineagotica’s free mobile app for a digital list and other interactive tools to manage your care.

Questions to ask after getting a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis

  • Where in my body has the cancer spread?

  • Are you experienced in treating people with metastatic breast cancer?

  • Would you recommend seeking a second opinion?

  • What is my prognosis?

  • Are there things I can do to improve my prognosis?

Questions to ask about treatment

  • What are my treatment options?

  • What clinical trial options are available for me? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?

  • Is there enough information to recommend a treatment plan for me? If not, which tests or procedures will be needed?

  • If I have been treated for non-metastatic breast cancer before, do you plan on retesting the hormone receptor status and HER2 status of the cancer?

  • What treatment plan do you recommend?

  • What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the tumor, help me feel better, or both?

  • What are the risks of each treatment?

  • How does having reached (or not reached) menopause affect my treatment options?

  • What is chemotherapy? What is hormonal or endocrine therapy? What is targeted therapy?

  • What can I do to get ready for each treatment?

  • What are the new research advances for this type of cancer?

  • What are the potential side effects of each treatment?

  • What care will be given to help control my symptoms and side effects?

  • Will I lose my hair, and can anything be done to prevent hair loss?

  • How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?

  • Will this treatment affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long? Is there anything I can do to prevent or treat these effects?

  • When do I need to make a treatment decision?

  • Who will lead my overall treatment?

  • Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?

  • Whom should I call if I have a problem or question about my treatment? Whom should I call if I experience side effects?

  • Do you communicate with your patients by email or with an electronic health record system?

  • What will happen if this treatment stops working?

  • What will happen if I choose to stop treatment?

Questions to ask about living with metastatic breast cancer

  • What level of caregiving will I need at this time?

  • Where can I find emotional support for me and my family?

  • What other services are available to me and my family?

  • If I am worried about managing the costs of cancer care, who can help me? Who can help me understand what aspects of my care are covered by my insurance?

  • Do you have a social worker I can speak with?

  • What should I tell my employer, if anything, and what laws protect my rights as an employee?

  • Whom should I call with questions or problems?

Questions to ask about advanced cancer decision-making

  • Will palliative care continue even if I stop cancer treatment?

  • Where can I receive palliative care?

  • How often will I need to see a doctor?

  • What is hospice care? How is hospice care different than palliative care?

  • Am I at the point where I should consider hospice care? If not, will you tell me when I am?

  • Where can I receive hospice care and how can I manage its costs?

  • Do I need to choose a health care proxy to make medical decisions for me when I cannot?

  • What legal documents should I have in place that explain what medical treatment I want or do not want? A living will? CPR or do-not-resuscitate orders? Physicians Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form?

  • Are there resources you recommend to help me put my legal, financial, and business affairs in order?

  • What services are available to help me and my family with the emotional and spiritual aspects of death and dying?

The next section in this guide is Additional Resources. It offers some more resources on this website beyond this guide that may be helpful to you. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.