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Chemotherapy - what to ask your doctor

What to ask your doctor about chemotherapy

You are having chemotherapy. This is treatment that uses medicines to kill cancer cells. Depending on your type of cancer and treatment plan, you may receive chemotherapy in one of several ways. These include:

Your health care provider may need to follow you closely while you are having chemotherapy. You will also need to learn how to care for yourself during this time.

Below are questions you may want to ask your provider.

I Would Like to Learn About:

Questions

Am I at risk for infections?

Am I at risk of bleeding? Is it OK to shave? What should I do if I cut myself or start bleeding?

What over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can I take for headaches, the common cold, and other illnesses?

Do I need to use birth control?

What should I be eating to keep my weight and strength up?

Will I be sick to my stomach or have loose stools or diarrhea? How long after I receive my chemotherapy before these problems may start? What can I do if I am sick to my stomach or have diarrhea often?

Are there any foods or vitamins I should avoid?

Are there any medicines I should keep on hand?

Are there any medicines I should not take?

How do I take care of my mouth and lips?

Is it OK to be out in the sun? Do I need to use sunscreen? Do I need to stay indoors during cold weather?

What can I do about my fatigue?

When should I call the doctor?

Related Information

Lung cancer - small cell
Colorectal cancer
Hodgkin lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Brain tumor - children
Ovarian cancer
Breast cancer
Testicular cancer
Chemotherapy
Brain tumor - primary - adults
After chemotherapy - discharge
Bleeding during cancer treatment
Dry mouth during cancer treatment
Eating extra calories when sick - children
Eating extra calories when sick - adults
Oral mucositis - self-care
Drinking water safely during cancer treatment
Safe eating during cancer treatment
When you have diarrhea
When you have nausea and vomiting

References

American Cancer Society website. Chemotherapy. www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/chemotherapy.html. Updated February 16, 2016. Accessed November 12, 2018.

Collins JM. Cancer pharmacology. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 29.

National Cancer Institute website. Chemotherapy and you: support for people with cancer. www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/chemotherapy-and-you.pdf. Updated June 2011. Accessed November 12, 2018.

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Review Date: 10/18/2018  

Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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