Modern treatments can help patients with many kinds of cancer survive for years or even beat the disease completely.
Even if you know that, hearing a doctor tell you that you have "the big C" can shock you and leave you feeling scared, confused and unsure what to do next.
MedicineNet.com has a list of questions that you should consider asking, including what kinds of treatment options exist and if you should get a second opinion.
You can also ask about how the different treatments might effect you and what your insurance is likely to cover.
When you think a doctor might tell about cancer -- for example, after you have gone through some testing -- you should bring someone with you, The Mayo clinic suggests.
That center also says that a second opinion is always reasonable, and that you should consider a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers. But it says that there is nothing to be gained from seeing several doctors if the first few you see concur.
Other experts advise asking if you will need to curtail normal activities -- including work -- while you go through treatment.
Many experts also note that you must learn what to expect from any treatment. Will it destroy a tumor and return you to full health, or will it merely weaken the cancer and lengthen your life by some amount of time?
Telling Family, Friends
Cancer.org says that every patient must also decide when and what to tell family and friends.
It suggests taking people up on offers to help, rather than just assuming it was said as an empty promise. The organization also suggests keeping up with hobbies and activities as you are able.