Questions to Ask

A cancer diagnosis—whether for you, a family member, or a friend—can be stressful and confusing. You will have a lot of questions.

Click on the link below for an interactive tool from the American Cancer Society that can help you ask the right questions and get the answers you need. For more information, contact The National Cancer Institute at, or The American Cancer Society at

Questions You May Want to Ask Your Nurse or Physician:

About Your Cancer

  • Do you typically treat patients with my diagnosis?
  • What stage is my cancer?
  • Is there anything unique about my cancer that makes my prognosis better or worse?
  • Should I get a second opinion?

About Cancer Treatment

  • What is the goal of treatment - to cure my cancer or stop it from growing?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What risks or potential side effects are associated with each treatment?
  • Are there any clinical trials that are right for me?
  • How long will I receive treatment, how often, and where?
  • How will it be given?
  • How will I know if the treatment is working?
  • How might a disruption in my chemotherapy dose or timing affect my results?
  • How and when will I be able to tell whether the treatment is working?
  • What are the names of all the drugs I will be taking?
  • Can I talk with another of your patients who has received this treatment?
  • Are there any resources or Web sites you recommend for more information?

About Tests

  • What types of tests will I need?
  • Can you explain the results of my complete blood count (CBC)?
  • Are there tests for the genetic make–up of my cancer?
  • Will I benefit from having my cancer evaluated for its genetic make–up?

About Side Effects of Treatment

  • What possible side effects should I prepare for?
  • When might they start?
  • How can I prepare for them or lessen their impact? 
  • Are there treatments that can help relieve the side effects?
  • How can I best monitor myself for complications related to either my disease or my treatment?

About Protecting Against Infection

  • Will my type of chemotherapy put me at risk for a low white blood cell count and infection?
  • What are the signs of infection?
  • How serious is an infection?
  • How are infections treated?

About Daily Activities

  • How will my cancer treatment affect my usual activities?
  • Will I be able to work?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital?
  • Will I need someone to help me at home?
  • Will I need help taking care of my kids?
  • Are there any activities I should avoid during my chemotherapy?

About What to Expect After Treatment

  • What happens after I complete my treatment?
  • How can I best continue to monitor myself for complications related to either my disease or my treatment?
  • What kind of tests will I need and how frequently?
  • How often do I need to come in for checkups?
  • When will you know if I am cured?
  • What happens if my disease comes back? 
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