Cancer Information and Health Education
To make good decisions about your medical care, you will need accurate
information about your diagnosis and what to expect from cancer
treatment. It is sometimes difficult to remember everything your
doctors are telling you, especially when you may be upset. In
addition, people with cancer are often confused by what they read in
newspapers or by the advice of well-meaning friends.
INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO YOU
- Accurate information about your illness and how it is treated, as
well as second opinions and treatment options.
- Pamphlets and other written material describing what to expect
- Information related to typical questions or common myths about cancer.
- Books, articles, and pamphlets written by counselors or people
with cancer about how to cope with the emotional aspects of chronic
- Information about community services, such as vocational
retraining, transportation services, and financial assistance.
HOW DO YOU FIND THESE SERVICES?
- Your doctor, nurse and other health-care team members should be
the first people you talk with about your illness. They will give you
information suited to your situation.
- Besides your doctor, the Cancer Information Service
(1-800-4-CANCER), funded by the National Cancer Institute, is an
excellent resource for written materials. The CIS will answer your
questions by telephone and will often send you written materials on
request. The American Cancer Society (1-800-ACS- 2345) also provides
- The American Cancer Society sponsors group education programs to
help you understand your illness and the problems associated with it,
such as "I Can Cope." You may want to call 1-800-ACS-2345 for further
information about these programs.
- If you are having trouble getting information, consider a family
meeting with your doctor when he or she can devote enough time to
answering your questions. Bring a family member or friend along to
help you remember all aspects of the discussion.
- Keep a running list of questions in a notebook that you'd like to
ask your doctor. Take the notebook with you to your doctor's office or
to your clinic appointment.
- Not all patients need the same amount of information. Tell your
doctor if he or she is giving you too much or too little information.
If you are confused, you may worry and that will make it harder to
cope. You may find the booklet "Talking with Your Doctor" helpful. It
can be obtained through your local American Cancer Society.
- Be aware that books about cancer that you may obtain from the
library or bookstores are often outdated. Materials from the National
Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society tend to be the most
- In talking with friends or other people with cancer, remember that
everyone is different, and comparing your illness or treatment with
someone else's may be confusing. People mean well when they give
advice, but your doctor is the best source of information
- If you still feel anxious and fearful, talk with your nurse or
social worker. They can help you figure out why your information needs
are not being met. You may be too worried to completely hear what your
doctor is saying. Perhaps your doctor doesn't understand your unique
concerns. Whatever the reason, being unsure about what is going on
will make it harder to cope.
Frequently Asked Questions
National Cancer Institute