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Immunotherapy: questions to ask your doctor

Cancer - immunotherapy; Tumor - immunotherapy

You are having immunotherapy to try to kill cancer cells. You may receive immunotherapy alone or along with other treatments at the same time. Your health care provider may need to follow you closely while you are having immunotherapy. You will also need to learn how to best care for yourself during this time.

Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor.

I Would Like to Learn About:

Questions

Is cancer immunotherapy the same as chemotherapy?

Do I need someone to bring me in and pick me up after the treatment?

What are the known side effects? How soon after my treatment will I experience the side effects?

Am I at risk for infections?

Am I at risk for bleeding?

Are there any medicines I should not take?

Do I need to use birth control? What should I do if I want to get pregnant in the future?

Will I be sick to my stomach or have loose stools or diarrhea?

Will my hair fall out? Is there anything I can do about it?

Will I have problems thinking or remembering things? Can I do anything that might help?

What should I do if I get a rash?

If my skin or eyes are itchy, what can I use to treat this?

What should I do if my nails start to break?

How should I take care of my mouth and lips?

Is it OK to be out in the sun?

What can I do about my fatigue?

When should I call the doctor?

References

National Cancer Institute website. Immunotherapy to treat cancer. www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/immunotherapy. Updated May 24, 2018. Accessed August 22, 2018.

Pardoll D. Cancer immunology. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 6.

Sharma A, Campbell M, Yee C, Goswami S, Sharma P. Immunotherapy of cancer. In: Rich RR, Fleisher TA, Shearer WT, et al, eds. Clinical Immunology: Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 77.

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Review Date: 7/26/2018  

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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