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Most cancers require some surgery, usually a biopsy followed by a more extensive operation. Don’t hesitate to question your doctor about options, including non-surgical ones. If you’re not satisfied with the answers ask for a second opinion.

Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will ask many questions. Be honest. They don’t really care how much you drink, smoke, or use drugs, but they must know in order to ensure your safety. Don’t minimize your answers. If they don’t ask about something you think is important, offer it.

You’ll be asked to sign a consent form for surgery. The fine print will scare you silly. It’ll ask you to say you know you may die or suffer permanent brain damage. It doesn’t mean it will happen but it is the law that you have to know of all the risks.

Your stay in the hospital may depend on the type of surgery you have, your doctor, the hospital, and/or your insurance coverage. Some fairly extensive surgeries are performed on an out-patient basis. Check your coverage and talk with your medical team and feel comfortable about what to expect.

You may be eligible for some home or "visiting nurse" care following surgery. Talk with your doctor. Such arrangements are made by the "discharge planner" of the hospital, but know before you go.

While in the hospital ask to see a social worker to help you with questions about transportation, insurance, finances, or issues on which you need help. Read our list of questions to ask your social worker.

You’ll probably see your surgeon two or three times after you leave the hospital. If you have not been referred to an oncologist during your hospital stay, be sure to ask your surgeon for a referral. It is essential that cancer patients see an oncologist on a regular basis.

Read the list of questions to ask when dealing with cancer and cancer treatments, particularly those relating to the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and hospital staff..

Read our resources
on surgery

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