Diagnosis FAQ - the big questions following diagnosis
Immediately after diagnosis you are likely to have a number of questions Here we try to answer some of the most common ones...
I've just been diagnosed with cancer and have an appointment with my consultant. What should I do / ask them?
Appointments can be overwhelming, especially if there is a lot of information to remember. It is a good idea to have a someone accompany you to your appointments for support, and to help take note of what is said. You can also take notes or ask to record the consultation on your phone.
Write down a list of questions you want to ask about your diagnosis and upcoming treatment. Some questions you might want to start with are:
How much experience does the team treating you have with cancer in or around pregnancy?
How will your maternity, obstetrics (birth) and oncological (cancer) teams communicate and work together?
What treatment plan is being recommended and why?
Does treatment need to begin right away, or can/should it be delayed?
What are the short- and long-term risks of my treatment plan to me? To the baby?
How will treatment affect delivery?
Will treatment affect fertility? What are your choices around future fertility?
Will I be able to breastfeed (if desired)?
What support services and resources are available to me and to my family?
Remember that the answers to the above questions will be specific to you, your cancer and the treatment that you will be receiving.
What is a MDT / Multi-Disciplinary Team?
Your Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) is the team of specialised individuals who will manage your care. It is normal for all cancer cases to be discussed at MDT meetings. You have the right to request to be involved in your MDT meetings where you care plan will be discussed.
This team may include specialist cancer nurses, clinical oncologist, radiologists, pathologists, specialist surgeons including plastic surgeons, and research teams. Dependent on the type of cancer and your specific needs during and after treatment, this team could also include other health care professionals such as dietician, physiotherapists, psychological support and genetic specialists.
What do I do if I'm not happy with my care plan?
If at any point you are not happy with what you have experienced through your diagnosis and treatment in the first instance please speak with your healthcare team to see if the issue can be resolved. Although not a legal right, most GPs or your current consultant will be happy to refer you for a second opinion. Mummy's Star may be able to offer advocacy support in these instances.
If the issue is not resolved through them you may want to contact your local PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service). Most PALS services can be contacted through your hospital switchboard and/or website.
How do I tell my friends and family about my diagnosis?
Telling your friends and family is a very personal experience and it is your decision who you tell and when you tell them. It is likely that you will find yourself needing to use different language and explanations for different people, particularly children.
Here are some helpful articles about telling your friends and family about your cancer:
Will my cancer diagnosis/treatment affect the birth of my baby?
The team caring for you will discuss the options for your baby’s birth, which are likely to be based upon your treatment plan and schedule. It is possible, but not guaranteed, that early induction is recommended.
See 'Pregnancy Fears' for more detail and answers to other pregnancy related questions.
Will I be able to breastfeed following a cancer diagnosis / treatment?
The safety of breastfeeding will depend upon whether you are actively undergoing treatment at the time. Click here to read our Cancer and Breastfeeding article for more details.
Where can I find out more about cancer in or around pregnancy?
We have a list of reputable organisations here on our website, as well as a number of blogs, articles and real life stories to help you learn more about this unique situation.
If you are recently diagnosed and have more questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to your Information and Support Worker or email email@example.com for referral.