Important Questions To Ask For Post Op Cancer Care
Before you begin cancer treatment there are several questions that you should review with your doctors and care team so that you know what to expect afterwards.
These questions will help you put together a post operative care strategy that will help you or your loved one recover more quickly.
- Exactly what will you do in this operation?
- Will all the cancer be removed, or just some of it?
- What are the chances the surgery will work?
- Will I need other cancer treatments before or after surgery?
- Am I healthy enough to go through the stress of surgery and anesthesia?
- How long will the surgery take?
- Who will update my family?
- Will I need blood transfusions?
- Will I be in a lot of pain? Will I have tubes (drains or catheters) coming out of my body?
- How long will I need to be in the hospital?
- How will my body be affected by the surgery? Will any of the changes be permanent?
- How long will it take for me to get back to my usual activities?
- What are the possible risks and side effects of this operation?
- What will happen if I don’t have the operation?
- If this surgery doesn’t work, are there other cancer treatments I can get afterwards?
- Will my insurance pay for this surgery? How much will I have to pay?
- Are you certified by the American Board of Surgery and/or a Specialty Surgery Board?
- Are you experienced in operating on my kind of cancer? How many operations like this have you done?
- Do I have time to get a second opinion?
Before you are discharged, be sure that you understand a few key items that may need attention at home.
- How you will care for your wound (and drains) at home
- What to look for that might need attention right away
- What your activity limits are (driving, working, lifting, etc.)
- Other restrictions (diet, those related to pain medicine, etc.)
- What medicines to take and how often to take them, including pain medicines
- Who to call with questions or problems if they come up (Make sure you know who to call if you have problems after hours or on the weekend.)
- Whether you should be doing anything in terms of rehabilitation (physical activity or physical therapy)
- When you need to see the doctor again
How long someone stays in the hospital after surgery depends on the type of surgery and their health. While the patient is in the hospital, you can help by encouraging them to follow all the doctor’s instructions. These may include getting up and walking around, taking prescribed pain medication, or taking deep breaths and coughing.
Tell a nurse or doctor if the pain medication isn’t working. Before you leave, talk to the doctors and nurses about what to expect after the patient gets home. Be sure you understand: How to take care of the wound and any drains. What to look for that might need attention right away. What activities are limited, such as bathing, driving, working, or lifting. Any diet restrictions. What medicines to take and how often to take them, including pain medicines. Who to call with questions or problems if they come up, including after hours or on the weekend. Whether any home health care or rehabilitation is needed (physical activity or physical therapy). When to see the doctor again. Recovery is different for everyone. Wounds heal at different rates, and some operations are more involved than others. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to handle all the help at home that’s needed, let a health care team know. They may be able to arrange for a caregiver for a short amount of time. If you need extra help around the house as you recover from cancer treatment, Visiting Angels in Asheville can be a great resource for you or your family!