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What to Ask Your Doctor About Stage IV Melanoma

When your doctor tells you that you have cancer, it can often be overwhelming. However, it is important to use the time when you are with your doctor to learn as much about your cancer as you can, so that you can gain control of your diagnosis.

 

After a physician tells a patient that they have melanoma the doctor will often explain a number of important details specific to that patient's diagnosis. It is often helpful to bring a friend or family member with you. Friends can lend morale support and help you by asking questions, taking notes, and helping you understand what your doctor has said.

 

The following questions relate to some of the most important aspects of a melanoma diagnosis and can serve as a guide to help you focus on what questions to ask your doctor.

 

Remember, it is ALWAYS okay to ask your doctor to repeat or clarify something they have said so that you can better understand it. 

 

You may find it helpful to print out these questions and bring them with you to your next doctor's visit.

 

  • What criteria did I meet to be diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma?
  • Where has my melanoma spread?
  • Is my brain involved?
  • Will I need additional tests or procedures to confirm the stage of my disease?
  • Should I get a second opinion?
  • What is my prognosis?
  • Will I have surgery?
  • Was I tested for the BRAF mutation? Should I be tested for the NRAS or C-KIT mutation?
  • What treatments do you recommend? Why?
  • Should I consider immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or chemotherapy to treat my melanoma? 
  • What are the goals of my treatment?
  • What are the possible side effects of these treatments?
  • Will the treatment influence my ability to work?
  • Do I need radiation therapy?
  • What are clinical trials?
  • Should I consider enrolling in a clinical trial?
  • Do you participate in any clinical trials?
  • Should I be referred to a center that has clinical trials?
  • Can I use any complementary or alternative therapies?
  • What type of a follow-up will I need?
  • Do I need regular scans? Do I need a brain scan?
  • Should I see a dermatologist regularly?           
  • What is the risk of my family members developing melanoma?
  • What do you recommend regarding sun/UV protection?