Osteosarcoma - Childhood and Adolescence: Questions to Ask the Health Care Team

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2019

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 and your family better understand your child’s diagnosis, treatment plan, and overall care. Use the menu to see other pages.

Talking often with the health care team 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 and your family. 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. It may also be helpful to ask a family member or friend to come along to appointments to help take notes.

Questions to ask before a biopsy

  • How experienced is the surgeon or radiologist in doing this type of biopsy specifically for osteosarcoma or bone tumors?

  • If the diagnosis is bone cancer, is the surgeon part of a team that is experienced in treating people with bone cancer? If not, can you or the surgeon refer me to a team?

  • Is the pathologist experienced in the diagnosis of osteosarcoma?

  • Is there any molecular testing that should or can be performed on the tumor tissue?

Questions to ask after getting a diagnosis

  • What is the grade and type of osteosarcoma?

  • Can you tell me if the tumor has spread to other places in the body?

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

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

  • Is this something that my child inherited or could any future children of theirs potentially inherit?

Questions to ask about choosing a treatment and managing side effects

  • What are my child’s treatment options?

  • What clinical trials are available for 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?

  • Does this cancer center specialize in the treatment of children, adolescents, and young adults with bone cancer?

  • 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?

  • 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 of cancer care, who can help me?

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

  • If I have questions or problems, who should I call?

Questions to ask about having surgery

  • What type of surgery do you recommend?

  • How will their cosmetic appearance be changed by the surgery?

  • Will my child have physical limitations after this surgery? If so, what will those be? Will those limitations be short term or long term?

  • How long will the operation take?

  • What are the risks of the operation?

  • Is the intent to remove the entire tumor?

  • How long will my child be in the hospital?

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

  • Who should I contact about any side effects my child experiences? And how soon?

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

  • Will other types of treatment be necessary after surgery?

Questions to ask about having chemotherapy

  • What type of chemotherapy 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? How will they be managed?

  • Who should I contact about any side effects my child experiences? And how soon?

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

  • What are the chances of successful treatment without using chemotherapy?

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 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 leading my child’s follow-up care?

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

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

The next section in this guide is Additional Resources. It offers some more resources on this website that may be helpful to you. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.