Asking for information

Your own feelings and fears may make it difficult for you to ask your medical team the right questions and to remember the answers. It can be useful to:

  • Try and think of the most important questions before the discussion with your doctor.
  • Write down the important points on a piece of paper that you can take with you. Every healthcare professional knows how difficult it is to understand and remember information, particularly when it is serious and when it is about you. Nobody will mind you writing things down or making a list of questions that you want to ask.
  • Take a friend or relative with you to your appointments. They can help you remember things that the doctor says, and questions you want to ask but might forget.
  • Ask for simpler explanations. If you don’t understand what you're told, it's fine to ask the person to explain again more simply.

  • Remember, you will have other chances to ask questions. You can always make another appointment to ask your questions if you don’t cover everything in the first discussion, or if you are given surprising news that changes the questions that you wanted to ask.

    Once your doctor or nurse has answered your questions, it’s a good idea for you to summarise their answers and say something like ‘So you’re saying that’ or ‘If I’ve got that right, you mean that...’ These words make it clear what you have understood, and can encourage your doctor or nurse to explain things more clearly if necessary.

Condition-specific information

Further information on conditions that may be affecting you or those around you:

Support Groups

Visit the NHS inform Support Services Directory to search for local organisations that may help with the issues you are facing:

Last updated: 19 February 2015

This content was supplied by Macmillan Cancer Support.