Childhood Cancer: Questions to Ask the Health Care Team

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2017

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. Use the menu to see other pages.

Talking often with your child's health care team is important to make informed decisions about their 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 a digital list and other interactive tools to manage your child’s care.

Questions to ask after getting a diagnosis

  • What type of cancer does my child have

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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

  • Will the treatment affect my child’s normal growth and development?

  • 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 cancer care, who can help me?

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

  • Whom should we call with 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?

  • Will my child have scars?

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

Questions to ask about having other treatments, such as radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or stem cell transplantation/bone marrow transplantation?

  • 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 my child 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 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 personal records?

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

  • What survivorship support services are available to me/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. You may use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.