Being educated and informed will
help you make the best decisions
about your cancer treatment. Get all
the information you can as early as
possible concerning your evaluation,
treatment, and possible side
effects. The sooner you know about
side effects and possible
treatments, the more likely you are
to protect yourself against them, or
manage them more effectively.
Your doctor and nurse are your best
sources of information, but you must
remember to ask questions. There is
no such thing as a dumb question.
Don't be afraid to ask anything that
is on your mind. To make the most of
your opportunities to learn from
your health care providers, read as
much as you can and make a list of
questions before each appointment.
Also, ask family, friends, and your
support team to help you remember
the questions. These approaches will
help you talk more effectively with
your doctor or nurse. Finally, you
or your caregiver should consider
taking notes during your visit to
ensure you remember what you
The following are
some questions, grouped by topic,
which you may wish to ask your nurse
- Do you typically
treat patients with my diagnosis?
- What stage is my cancer?
there anything unique about my
cancer that makes my prognosis
better or worse?
- Should I get a
- What is the
goal of treatment?
- To cure my
cancer or stop it from growing?
What are my treatment options?
How can each treatment option help
me achieve my goal of therapy?
What risks or potential side effects
are associated with each treatment?
- What research studies ("clinical
trials") are available?
there any clinical trials that are
right for me?
- How long will I
receive treatment, how often, and
- How will it be given?
- How will I know if the treatment
- How might a
disruption in my chemotherapy dose
or timing affect my results?
How and when will I be able to tell
whether the treatment is working?
- What are the names of all the
drugs I will be taking?
- Can I
talk with another of your patients
who has received this treatment?
- Are there any resources or Web
sites you recommend for more
- What types of lab tests will I
- Will I need x-rays and
- Can you explain the
results of my complete blood count
- Are there tests for the
genetic make-up of my cancer?
Will I benefit from having my cancer
evaluated for its genetic make-up?
- How frequently will I get the
Effects of Treatment
What possible side effects should I
- When might they
- Will they get better or
worse as my treatment goes along?
- How can I prepare for them or
lessen their impact?
- Are there
treatments that can help relieve the
side effects? What are they? Do you
usually recommend or prescribe them?
- Which risks are most serious?
Will I require blood transfusions?
- How can I best monitor
myself for complications related to
either my disease or my treatment?
Protecting Against Infection
- Will my type of chemotherapy put
me at risk for a low white blood
cell count and infection?
- Can I
help protect myself against
infection right from the start of
chemotherapy, instead of waiting
until problems develop?
- Am I at
special risk for infection?
What are the signs of infection?
- How serious is an infection?
How long will I be at risk for
- What should I do if
I have a fever?
- How are
- How will my
cancer treatment affect my usual
- Will I be able to
- Will I need to stay in
- Will I need
someone to help me at home?
Will I need help taking care of my
- Are there any activities
I should avoid during my
Expect After Treatment
What happens after I complete my
- How can I best
continue to monitor myself for
complications related to either my
disease or my treatment?
kind of lab tests will I need?
How frequently should I get those
- What types of x-rays
and scans will I need?
often do I need to come in for
- When will you know if
I am cured?
- What happens if my
disease comes back?