Understanding a Cancer Prognosis
What the prognosis means to a patient -- and you
Cancer prognosis vs. diagnosis
Unlike the diagnosis, which provides information about the type of cancer and where it originated, a cancer prognosis tells you how far the cancer has advanced and what happens next.
How doctors think about a cancer prognosis
Doctors often talk about cancer prognosis in terms of staging, grouping cancers into four stages, with stage I being an early cancer and stage IV being late-stage cancer that has spread. Beyond this determination, there are a number of other factors to consider as you seek to understand a cancer prognosis.
In search of answers
Discussing a patient's cancer prognosis with the doctor can be one of the scariest and most overwhelming parts of coming to grips with the reality of the disease. Chances are, you'll feel like you're being swamped by waves of medical information you're not sure how to fathom. You'll probably find yourself wanting hard-and-fast answers, while the doctor strives to give you a clear picture of the various scenarios and how they may play out.
It's important to have patience -- with yourself as well as with the doctor -- and realize that learning about and understanding a cancer prognosis will be an ongoing part of cancer treatment.