Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Chemotherapy - what to ask your doctor

Definition

You are having chemotherapy. This is treatment that uses medicines to kill cancer cells. Depending on your type of cancer and treatment plan, you may receive chemotherapy in one of several ways. These include:

  • By mouth
  • By injection under the skin (subcutaneous)
  • Through an intravenous (IV) line
  • Injected into the spinal fluid (intrathecal)
  • Injected into the abdominal cavity (intraperitoneal).

Your health care provider may need to follow you closely while you are having chemotherapy. You will also need to learn how to care for yourself during this time.

Below are questions you may want to ask your provider.

Alternative Names

What to ask your doctor about chemotherapy

Questions

Am I at risk of infections?

  • What foods should I avoid so that I do not get an infection?
  • Is my water at home ok to drink? Are there places I should not drink the water?
  • Can I go swimming?
  • What should I do when I go to a restaurant?
  • Can I be around pets?
  • What immunizations do I need? Which immunizations should I stay away from?
  • Is it ok to be in a crowd of people? Do I need to wear a mask?
  • Can I have visitors over? Do they need to wear a mask?
  • When should I wash my hands?

Am I at risk of bleeding? Is it ok to shave? What should I do if I cut myself or start bleeding?

What over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can I take for headaches, the common cold, and other illnesses?

Do I need to use birth control?

What should I be eating to keep my weight and strength up?

Will I be sick to my stomach or have loose stools or diarrhea? How long after I receive my chemotherapy before these problems may start? What can I do if I am sick to my stomach or have diarrhea often?

Are there any foods or vitamins I should avoid?

Are there any medicines I should keep on hand?

Are there any medicines I should not take?

How do I take care of my mouth and lips?

  • How can I prevent mouth sores?
  • How often should I brush my teeth? What type of toothpaste should I use?
  • What can I do about dry mouth?
  • What should I do if I have a mouth sore?

Is it ok to be out in the sun? Do I need to use sunscreen? Do I need to stay indoors during cold weather?

What can I do about my fatigue?

When should I call the doctor?

References

Collins JM. Cancer pharmacology. Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 29.

National Cancer Institute. Chemotherapy and you: support for people with cancer. Cancer.gov. Updated May 2007. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/chemotherapy-and-you. Accessed December 21, 2016.

Review Date:11/10/2016
Reviewed By:Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
         Yes
         No
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?
         Yes
         No