Questions to ask your child's doctor about cancer
Your child is having treatment for cancer. These treatments may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or other treatments. Your child may get more than one type of treatment. Your child's health care provider may need to follow your child closely during treatment. You will also need to learn how to care for your child during this time.
Below are some questions you may want to ask your child's provider to help you plan ahead and know what to expect during treatment.
Who will be treating my child:
- How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer in children?
- Should we get a second opinion?
- Who else will be part of my child's health care team?
- Who will be in charge of my child's treatment?
Your child's cancer and how it is treated:
- What type of cancer does my child have?
- What stage is the cancer at?
- Does my child need any other tests?
- What are the treatment options?
- What type of treatment do you recommend? Why?
- How likely is this treatment to work?
- Are there any clinical trials my child can take part in?
- How do you check if the treatment is working?
- How likely is it that the cancer will come back after treatment?
What happens during treatment(s)?
- What does my child need to do to get ready for treatment?
- Where will the treatment take place?
- How long will the treatment last?
- How often will my child need treatment?
- What are the side effects of treatment?
- Are there any treatments for these side effects?
- Will the treatment affect my child's growth and development?
- Will the treatment affect my child's ability to have children?
- Does the treatment have any long-term side effects?
- Who can I call with questions about my child's treatment or side effects?
- Can any of the treatment be done at home?
- Can I stay with my child during treatment?
- If the treatment is in a hospital, can I stay overnight? What services for children (such as play therapy and activities) are available in the hospital?
My child's life during treatment:
- Does my child need any vaccines before treatment?
- Will my child need to miss school? If so, for how long?
- Will my child need a tutor?
- Will my child be able to do other daily activities?
- Do I need to keep my child away from people with certain illnesses?
- Are there any support groups for families who are coping with this type of cancer?
My child's life after treatment:
- Will my child grow normally?
- Will my child have cognitive problems after treatment?
- Will my child have emotional or behavior problems after treatment?
- Will my child be able to have children as an adult?
- Will cancer treatment put my child at risk for health problems later in life? What might they be?
- Will my child need any follow-up care? For how long?
- Who can I call if I have questions about the cost of my child's care?
American Cancer Society website. What should you ask your child's doctor about childhood leukemia? www.cancer.org/cancer/leukemiainchildren/detailedguide/childhood-leukemia-talking-with-doctor. Updated February 12, 2019. Accessed March 18, 2020.
American Cancer Society website. What should you ask your child's doctor about neuroblastoma? www.cancer.org/cancer/neuroblastoma/detailedguide/neuroblastoma-talking-with-doctor. Updated March 18, 2018. Accessed March 18,2020.
Cancer.Net website. Childhood cancer: Questions to ask the healthcare team. www.cancer.net/cancer-types/childhood-cancer/questions-ask-doctor. Updated September 2019. Accessed March 18, 2020.
National Cancer Institute website. Young people with cancer: a handbook for parents. www.cancer.gov/types/aya. Updated January 31, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2020.
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Review Date: 1/1/2020
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.