20 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment can be complex. If you’re weighing your options, your mind may be filled with questions for your doctor. But you may not be sure where to begin.

And when you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to forget what you wanted to ask. Taking the time to write down your questions before doctor visits can help.

When you have answers, you may feel more confident about your choices.

Here’s a starter list of common questions. You’ll likely have ones of your own.

Explore your options

1. What are my treatment options? Can you describe the risks and benefits?*

2. Which treatment — or combination of treatments — usually works best for my type and stage of cancer?

3. What other providers should I see to help determine the best treatment plan for me?

4. How and when will you know if my treatment is working?

5. What could happen if I chose not to be treated — or to stop treatment?

Learn about side effects

6. What are the most common side effects for the treatments I will receive? 

7. What can I do to lessen them?

8. Are there any side effects that may persist or be permanent?

9. Could treatment affect my fertility?

10. What side effects should I report to you?

Get ready for treatment

11. Will I need any medical tests before starting treatment?

12. When and where can I get them?

13. Will my care affect the medicines I currently take?

14. Should I change my lifestyle — diet, activity level, etc. — either now or during my treatment?

15. Are there other steps I can take to prepare for treatment?

Manage your recovery

16. How will you help me if I’m in pain or have other symptoms? 

17. Will I need to miss work for my treatment or recovery?

18. Will I need assistance at home with care or household duties?

19. When will I likely be able to resume my normal activities (driving, sex, exercise, etc.)?

20. Which physical activities would you recommend for me while I’m recovering?

Another tip: Think about bringing a friend or loved one along to your doctor visits. He or she can help you keep track of the answers. Or ask your doctor if it’s OK to record your conversation.

What to do next

Be sure to rely on trustworthy information. Your health care team is usually your best resource for answers. But you may also choose to learn more online. Here are three good places to start:


*Check your benefit plan to see what services may be covered.

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should be construed as medical or other advice. Talk to an appropriate health care professional to determine what may be right for you.

Last reviewed July 2017