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Questions to ask about diagnosis

The following are questions that you can ask the healthcare team about diagnosing cancer. Choose the questions that fit your, or your child’s, situation and add questions of your own. You may find it helpful to take the list to the next appointment and to write down the answers.

  • What test(s) are needed to find cancer? How are they done?
  • Will a biopsy be done?
  • When will the test(s) be scheduled? Is there a waiting list?
  • Who makes the arrangements or appointments for the test(s)?
  • Can a support person (such as a partner, parent or friend) be present during the test(s)?
  • Where will the test(s) be done?
  • Will the procedure be done as an inpatient or outpatient procedure?
  • Is an anesthetic or sedation used? If so, what kind?
  • Is any preparation needed for the test(s)?
  • How long will the test(s) take?
  • Are there any side effects to the test(s)? Is the procedure painful?
  • Are there any risks involved with the test(s)? What are they?
  • Are there special instructions to follow after the test(s)?
  • Do I need to arrange a ride home after the test(s)?
  • How long does it take to get the results of the test(s)?
  • Who will explain the test results?
  • May I have a copy of the test results?
  • What happens if the results are not normal?
  • What other tests will need to be done? Why?


Dr Camilla Zimmermann Dr Camilla Zimmermann highlights the need to change the stigma of palliative care.

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Taking action against all cancers

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The latest Canadian Cancer Statistics report found that of all newly diagnosed cancers in 2017, half are expected to be lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers. Learn what you can do to reduce the burden of cancer.

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