HIV and AIDS-Related Cancer: Questions to Ask the Doctor

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some questions to ask your doctor or other members of your health care team, to help you better understand your diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall care. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Talking often with the doctor is important to make informed decisions about your health care. These suggested questions are a starting point to help you learn more about your cancer care and treatment. You are also encouraged to ask additional questions that are important to you. You may want to print this list and bring it to your next appointment, or download Cancer.Net’s free mobile app for an e-list and other interactive tools to manage your care.

General questions:

  • What is my diagnosis? What does this mean?
  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What clinical trials are open to me? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?
  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?
  • What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help me feel better, or both?
  • Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?
  • Who will be coordinating my overall treatment and follow-up care?
  • What are the possible side effects of this treatment, both in the short term and the long term?
  • How can my HIV infection be managed during cancer treatment?
  • How will the cancer treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?
  • Could this treatment plan affect my sex life? If so, how and for how long?
  • Could this treatment affect my ability to become pregnant or have children? If so, should I talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?
  • If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my medical care, who can help me with these concerns?
  • Whom should I call for questions or problems?
  • What support services are available to me? To my family?

For people who need surgery:

  • What are the possible side effects of surgery?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital for this surgery? For how long?
  • When can I expect to recover from surgery?

For people who need chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or targeted therapy:

  • What type of therapy or medications will I receive?
  • How do I prepare for this treatment?
  • What side effects can I expect from this treatment?
  • What can be done to relieve the side effects?

For people who need radiation therapy:

  • What kind of radiation therapy will I receive? How often will I receive this treatment?
  • How do I prepare for this treatment?
  • What side effects can I expect from this treatment?
  • What can be done to relieve the side effects?

After treatment:

  • What follow-up tests will I need, and how often will I need them?
  • What are the chances that the cancer will return?

The next section offers some more resources that may be helpful to you. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Additional Resources, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.