What Should You Ask Your Doctor About Your Child’s Brain or Spinal Cord Tumor?

It’s important for you to have honest, open discussions with your child’s cancer care team. They want to answer all of your questions, no matter how minor you might think they are. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What kind of tumor does my child have?
  • Where is the tumor located, and how far has it spread?
  • Will my child need other tests before we can decide on treatment?
  • Will we need to see other doctors?
  • How much experience do you have treating this type of tumor?
  • What are our treatment options? What do you recommend? Why?
  • What is likely to happen if we chose not to have treatment right away?
  • How soon do we need to start treatment?
  • What should we do to be ready for treatment?
  • How long will treatment last? What will it be like? Where will it be done?
  • How will treatment affect our daily activities?
  • What are the possible risks and side effects of treatment?
  • How might treatment affect my child’s ability to learn, grow, and develop?
  • How likely is it that treatment could affect my child’s future ability to have children?
  • Based on what you’ve learned about my child’s tumor, what is the expected prognosis (outlook)?
  • What will we do if the treatment doesn’t work or if the tumor comes back?
  • What type of follow-up will my child need after treatment?
  • Are there nearby support groups or other families who have been through this that we could talk to?

Along with these sample questions, be sure to write down any others you might want to ask. For instance, you might want information about recovery times so you can plan your work and your child’s school and activity schedule. Or you may want to ask about second opinions concerning the diagnosis and treatment options, or about clinical trials for which your child may qualify.

Also keep in mind that doctors are not the only ones who can provide you with information. Other health care professionals, such as nurses and social workers, may be able to answer some of your questions. You can find out more about speaking with your child’s health care team in The Doctor-Patient Relationship.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: August 12, 2014 Last Revised: January 21, 2016

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