Lymphoma - Non-Hodgkin: Questions to Ask the Doctor

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2016

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.

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.

Questions to ask after getting a diagnosis

  • Which type and subtype of lymphoma do I have?

  • Did a pathologist experienced in the diagnosis of lymphoma review the biopsy?

  • Can you explain my pathology report (laboratory test results) to me?

  • Should I get a second opinion? Will this include a specialized pathologist reviewing the biopsy?

  • How many patients do you see with this type of lymphoma each year?

  • Are you board certified? Do you have subspecialty boards in hematology, oncology, or radiation oncology?

  • Where in my body has the disease spread?

  • Which stage is the lymphoma? What does this mean?

Questions to ask about choosing a treatment and managing side effects

  • What are my treatment options?

  • What clinical trials are available for me? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?

  • Will I need surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation therapy?

  • What is a monoclonal antibody? Is this treatment appropriate for me?

  • Why is watchful waiting sometimes appropriate? Is this an option for me?

  • 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?

  • Is my lymphoma curable? If so, what are the chances of a cure? If not, can the disease be controlled?

  • What are the possible side effects of this treatment, both in the short term and the long term?

  • Who will be part of my health care team, and what does each member do?

  • Who will be leading my overall treatment?

  • How will this treatment affect my daily life? Will I be able to work, exercise, and perform my usual activities?

  • Could this treatment 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 of cancer care, who can help me?

  • How can I stay as healthy as possible during and after treatment?

  • What follow-up tests will I need, and how often will I need them?

  • What support services are available to me? To my family?

  • Whom should I call with questions or problems?

  • Is there anything else I should be asking?

Questions to ask about having radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted therapy

  • What type of treatment is recommended?

  • What is the goal of this treatment?

  • How long will it take to give this treatment?

  • What side effects can I expect during treatment?

  • What are the possible long-term effects of having this treatment?

  • What can be done to relieve the side effects?

Questions to ask about planning follow-up care

  • What is the chance that the cancer will come back? Should I watch for specific signs or symptoms?

  • What long-term side effects or late effects are possible based on the cancer treatment I received?

  • What follow-up tests will I need, and how often will I need them?

  • How do I get a treatment summary and survivorship care plan to keep in my personal records?

  • Who will be leading my follow-up care?

  • What survivorship support services are available to me? To my family?

The next section in this guide is Additional Resources. It offers some more resources on this website beyond this guide that may be helpful to you. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.