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Questions to ask about chemotherapy

The following are questions that you can ask the healthcare team about chemotherapy treatments. Choose the questions that fit your, or your child’s, situation and add questions of your own. You may find it helpful to take the list to the next appointment and to write down the answers.

  • What is chemotherapy?
  • What are the benefits and risks of chemotherapy?
  • What type of chemotherapy is used for this cancer? Is more than one drug used?
  • What are the brand and generic names of the drug(s)? What is the correct spelling?
  • When will chemotherapy be given? Is there a waiting list for chemotherapy?
  • How is chemotherapy given? How often? Over what period of time?
  • Where will chemotherapy take place?
  • Does chemotherapy require a hospital stay? If so, for how long?
  • Can a support person (such as partner, parent or friend) stay during chemotherapy?
  • Can any treatment be done at home? Is any special equipment or training needed?
  • What are the chances it will be successful? When will we know?
  • Is any preparation needed for chemotherapy?
  • What tests are done during chemotherapy?
  • Will other treatments (like radiation therapy or biological therapy) be used at the same time as chemotherapy?
  • Are any immunizations or vaccinations needed before chemotherapy starts?
  • Will the drug(s) interact with any over-the-counter drugs (for example, Tylenol) or vitamins?
  • What are possible side effects of chemotherapy? When would they start? How long do they usually last?
  • Which side effects should I report right away? Who do I call?
  • What can be done to treat side effects?
  • Is a special diet needed? Do any foods interact with the chemotherapy drugs?
  • Are there special things that I should or should not do during or after chemotherapy?
  • Will chemotherapy affect usual activities? If so, for how long?
  • Will there be other treatments after chemotherapy? If so, what kind?
  • When are follow-up visits scheduled? Who is responsible for follow-up after chemotherapy?

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