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Questions to Ask

Before choosing chemotherapy as a treatment option, a patient should understand the associated benefits, side effects and risks. Patients should consider asking their doctor or nurse the following questions about treatment and realistic expectations for an outcome.

  • What is the goal of chemotherapy for my cancer?
  • What are the chances that the chemotherapy will be successful?
  • Following my chemotherapy, what will be my condition; cured, in remission or relieved of symptoms?
  • What other ways might I achieve these same goals?
  • How will I know if the chemotherapy is effective?
  • Are there alternative treatments, if my chemotherapy doesn't work?
  • What potential risks and side effects are associated with the particular anticancer drug(s) I will be taking?
  • How do these side effects compare to those of other treatments?
  • How will I receive my chemotherapy, how often and for how long?
  • Where will I be going for the chemotherapy?
  • In what ways might I prepare for treatment and decrease my chance of side effects?
  • How will my diet, daily activities, work, exercise and sexual activities be restricted?
  • Will I also be treated with surgery and/or radiation? If so, why and when?
  • What results are expected of each type of treatment?
  • If chemotherapy is scheduled to follow surgery and/or radiation, will it destroy any remaining cancer cells? Could chemotherapy be used without the surgery and/or radiation?
  • What clinical trials are available that I could take part in?
Tips for remembering your doctor's answers
  • Take notes during every appointment, and don't be shy about asking the doctor to slow down if you need more time to write.
  • Take a friend or relative to help you better understand what your doctor says during your appointment and to refresh your memory afterward.
  • Ask your doctor, nurse and pharmacist any questions you may have. If you cannot understand their answers, ask them to explain it again. Keep a list of questions that you can add to as new questions arise.


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