Questions to ask about immunotherapy
The following are questions that you can ask the healthcare team about immunotherapy (sometimes called biological therapy). 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 immunotherapy?
- What are the benefits and risks of immunotherapy?
- When will immunotherapy be given? Is there a waiting list for immunotherapy?
- What type of immunotherapy will be given?
- What are the brand and generic names of the drug(s)? What is the correct spelling?
- How is immunotherapy given? How often? Over what period of time?
- Where will immunotherapy take place?
- Does immunotherapy require a hospital stay? If so, for how long?
- Can a support person (such as a partner, parent or friend) stay during immunotherapy?
- 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 immunotherapy?
- What tests are done during immunotherapy?
- Will other treatments (like radiation therapy or chemotherapy) be used at the same time?
- Are any immunizations or vaccinations needed before immunotherapy starts?
- Will the drug(s) interact with any over-the-counter drugs (for example, Tylenol) or vitamins?
- What are possible side effects of immunotherapy? 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? Are there any foods that interact with the immunotherapy drugs?
- Are there special things that I should or should not do during or after immunotherapy?
- Will immunotherapy affect usual activities? If so, for how long?
- Will there be other treatment after immunotherapy? If so, what kind?
- When are follow-up visits scheduled? Who is responsible for follow-up after immunotherapy?
Great progress has been made
Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.