What to Ask Your Doctor About Lymphoma

A lymphoma diagnosis brings up lots of questions. Here’s a handy list of things you may want to ask your medical team.

By The American Cancer Society

As you cope with cancer and cancer treatment, you need to have honest, open talks with your doctor. Feel free to ask any question that’s on your mind, no matter how small it might seem. Here are some questions you might want to ask. Nurses, social workers, and other members of the treatment team may also be able to answer many of your questions.

  • What kind of lymphoma is it?
  • What is the stage? What does staging mean?
  • Are there other tests that need to be done before we can decide treatment?
  • How much experience do you have treating this type of lymphoma?
  • What are my treatment choices?
  • What do you suggest and why?
  • Does one type of treatment reduce the risk of recurrence more than another?
  • How long with treatment last? What will it involve? Where will it be done?
  • How will treatment affect my or my child’s daily activities?
  • What short-term side effects might there be from the treatment? What can be done about these side effects?
  • What are the possible long-term side effects?
  • Will the treatment affect my (my child’s) ability to have children? Can we do anything about this?
  • How long will it take to recover from treatment?
  • When will it be OK to go back to work or school?
  • What are the chances that the cancer will come back after treatment? How will I know?
  • Does one type of treatment reduce the risk of the cancer coming back more than another?
  • What should I do to be ready (or get my child ready) for treatment?
  • How will this cancer affect other illnesses or medical problems and their treatment?
  • What would we do if the treatment doesn’t work or if the lymphoma comes back?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • Should I get a second opinion? Can you suggest someone?

In addition to these sample questions, be sure to write down some of your own. For instance, you might want more information about recovery times so that you can plan your work or school schedule. Or you may want to ask about clinical trials that might be good for you or your child.

Children with Lymphoma and Fertility

Some lymphoma treatments can affect fertility. This is a particular concern when young people are being treated. Sometimes there are things that can be done before cancer treatment so that the child or teen can have the option of having children later, as an adult. Talk with the doctor before treatment to find out how it may affect your child’s fertility. The doctor can refer you to a counselor or someone else to go over the options available and help you and your child make these important decisions before treatment starts.

Here are some questions you might want to ask:

  • Will this treatment have any short- or long-term effects on fertility?
  • If so, what could they be and how long could they last?
  • Could treatment cause permanent infertility?
  • Is there anything that can be done before treatment to prevent this?
  • Do any of these methods conflict with my child’s cancer treatment?
  • Once my child is finished with treatment, how will we know if he or she is infertile?
  • If my child becomes infertile, what are the options for having a family?