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Cancer treatment: How to ask the right questions?

Cancer treatment: How to ask the right questions?


Following a cancer diagnosis, we have all kinds of questions concerning the treatment. We can’t be sure we’ll get the best treatment and recover from cancer unless and until we get answers to our questions. So, what are the relevant questions we should be asking ourselves in such a difficult situation? Here’s a rundown of frequently asked questions, as well as information on chemotherapy, radiotherapy, drugs, side effects, and risks.

  • List of FAQs that you should discuss with your oncologist
  • Understanding of the surgical, medical and radiation options
  • Timing and sequence of these interventions
  • Understanding drugs (chemotherapy, targeted treatment)
  • Understanding the benefits, side effects and risks of these options


Below you will find many of the most frequently asked cancer-related questions. These questions cover a wide range of topics concerning cancer treatment. The answers to these questions shed light on various aspects of the treatment, such as treatment options, timeframes and success rates, among other things. A list of questions to ask your oncologist before starting your treatment is provided below.

  1. Where will I receive the treatment – outpatient clinic or hospital?1
  2. What is the success rate of the treatment?2
  3. How many treatment cycles are required for me? What is the expected outcome?
  4. What will be the side effects of the treatment? What can I do to cope with it?
  5. Do I need a family member by my side during and after the treatment? Or can I manage it on my own?
  6. What will be the time period of the treatment?
  7. Will I be cancer-free after the treatment? What are the chances of cancer recurring? And if yes, can I do something to stop it?
  8. What tests do I need to undergo after the treatment? And how frequently?
  9. Will being a part of a clinical trial help my case?
  10. Should I follow any dietary restrictions during and after the treatment?
  11. Will taking supplements or some other medication help in my early recovery?
  12. Can I reach out to any counselor or support group for early recovery?

Understanding cancer drugs

Knowledge about cancer drugs and how they will help in the treatment of the disease will erase doubts and be confident about the treatment. Here are a set of questions that you should ask regarding the drugs given during cancer treatment?

What kind of drugs will be given to me?

Till what period am I required to take the drug?

Will there be any side effects of the drug?

Is there any specific diet I need to follow to boost the efficacy of the drug?

How long do I need to take the drug?

Understanding chemotherapy options

In many cases, the first line of treatment suggested to patients is chemotherapy. There are a lot of questions regarding chemotherapy (often nonspecific and toxic drugs) that need to be answered. It is important to understand how chemotherapy works to be assured of getting the best treatment possible.

The following are the set of questions you should ask related to chemotherapy options.

How will chemotherapy help in my case?3

Should chemotherapy be combined with other treatments for best results?

Which side effects of chemotherapy should I be prepared for?

How many sessions of chemotherapy will I need?

What will be the total cost of chemotherapy sessions?

How will I know that the chemotherapy is working?

Where will the chemotherapy be done?

How frequently do I need chemotherapy?

What if I miss a session of chemotherapy? Will it affect my treatment negatively?

Do I need to be on a special diet while taking chemotherapy?

Can I continue working during chemotherapy?

How to cope with nausea during chemotherapy? What can help alleviate it?

Understanding radiation therapy options 

Radiation therapy is the therapy that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells or shrink4 tumors. The following are the set of questions to be asked regarding radiation therapy.

What are the different kinds of radiation therapy and how does it work?

Which radiation therapy is required for me? How will it work for me?

How frequently do I require radiation therapy? How much time is required per session?

Will radiation be clubbed with some other cancer treatment?

What will be the side effects of radiation therapy?

Should I follow any diet or diet restrictions during radiation therapy?

Can I continue working during radiation therapy?

Understanding the benefits, side-effects, and risks 

Although there are benefits of taking cancer treatment, there are certain risk factors and side-effects of the same as well. Knowing about all can combine and help in the best treatment and recovery possible gives a lot of hope to the cancer patient. Following are the questions you need to ask your oncologist.

How will the treatment is given to me benefit me?

What are the side effects of this treatment?

Are there any risks involved?

Is there anything else added that I need to know regarding the treatment?

Ensure that all your questions are answered, if not by an oncologist then by another expert. The answers to these questions will clarify a lot of doubts as well as keep you well-informed about your treatment. And this will hopefully lead to a speedy recovery.


  1. Questions to Ask Your Oncologist About Prostate Cancer Treatment – TrialJectory
  2. Radiation Oncologist (
  3. Chemotherapy to Treat Cancer – National Cancer Institute
  4. Radiation Therapy for Cancer – National Cancer Institute

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