Neuroblastoma - Childhood: Questions to Ask the Doctor

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2015

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some questions to ask your child’s doctor or other members of the health care team, to help you better understand your child’s 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 child’s health care. These suggested questions are a starting point to help you learn more about your child’s 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 child’s next appointment, or download Cancer.Net’s free mobile app for an e-list and other interactive tools to manage your child’s care.

Questions to ask after getting a diagnosis

  • Where is the cancer located?

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

  • What is the stage of the cancer? What does this mean?

  • What risk group has my child’s neuroblastoma been classified as? What does this mean?

  • Does my child’s tumor secrete any tumor markers?

Questions to ask about choosing a treatment and managing side effects

  • What are my child’s treatment options?

  • What clinical trials are open to my child? Where are they located, and how do I find out more about them?

  • Does this hospital participate in clinical trials for children with neuroblastoma?

  • What treatment plan do you recommend? Why?

  • What is the goal of each treatment? Is it to eliminate the cancer, help my child feel better, or both?

  • What is my child’s prognosis?

  • How many children with neuroblastoma are seen and treated at this hospital?

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

  • Who will be coordinating my child’s overall treatment?

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

  • How will this treatment affect my child’s daily life? Will he or she be able to attend school or perform his or her usual activities?

  • Could this treatment affect my child’s ability to become pregnant or have children? If so, should my family talk with a fertility specialist before cancer treatment begins?

  • If I’m worried about managing the costs related to my child’s medical care, who can help me with these concerns?

  • What follow-up tests are needed, and how often are they needed?

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

  • Whom should I call for questions or problems?

  • Is there anything else I should be asking?

Questions to ask about having surgery

  • What type of surgery will my child have? Will lymph nodes be removed?

  • How long will the operation take?

  • How long will my child be in the hospital?

  • Can you describe what my child’s recovery from surgery will be like?

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

Questions to ask about having multiple types of treatments for high-risk neuroblastoma, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation/bone marrow transplantation, immunotherapy, and other therapies.

  • Why are multiple types of treatment recommended?

  • What is the goal of each treatment?

  • How long will it take to give each treatment?

  • What side effects can my child expect during each treatment?

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

  • What can be done to relieve the side effects?

Questions to ask about planning follow-up care

  • What is the risk of the cancer returning? Are there signs and symptoms we should watch for?

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

  • What follow-up tests will my child need, and how often will he or she need them?

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

  • Who will be coordinating my child’s follow-up care?

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

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