It's important to have open, honest discussions with your child’s cancer care team. Ask any question, no matter how minor it might seem. Among the questions you might want to ask are:
If a neuroblastoma has been diagnosed
- What is the stage (extent) of the neuroblastoma? What does this mean?
- Which risk group does my child’s cancer fall into? What does this mean?
- What else can you tell about the cancer based on the tests that have been done?
- Do we need to have any other tests before we discuss treatment options?
- How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
- Do we need to see any other types of doctors?
- Who else will be on the treatment team, and what do they do?
When deciding on a treatment plan
- Does the neuroblastoma need to be treated? Why or why not?
- What are our treatment options?
- Does one type of treatment increase the chance of cure more than another?
- Are there any clinical trials we should consider?
- Which treatment do you recommend? Why?
- Should we get a second opinion? How do we do that? Can you recommend a doctor or cancer center?
- 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 lives?
- How long will it take my child to recover from treatment?
- What are the possible side effects from treatment? What can be done for them?
- Which side effects start shortly after treatment and which ones might develop later on?
- How might treatment affect my child’s ability to learn, grow, and develop?
- Will treatment affect my child’s ability to have children someday? Can we do anything about this?
- Will my child have a higher long-term risk of other cancers?
During and after treatment
Once treatment begins, you’ll need to know what to expect and what to look for. Not all of these questions may apply, but getting answers to the ones that do may be helpful.
- How will we know if the treatment is working?
- Is there anything we can do to help manage side effects?
- What symptoms or side effects should we tell you about right away?
- How can we reach you or someone on your team on nights, weekends, or holidays?
- Who can we talk to if we have questions about costs, insurance coverage, or social support?
- What are the chances that the cancer will come back after treatment? What would we do if this happens?
- What type of follow-up will my child need after treatment?
- Do you know of any local or online support groups where we can talk to other families who are coping with neuroblastoma or childhood cancer?
Along with 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 schedules.
Keep in mind, too, that doctors aren't the only ones who can give you information. Other members of your health care team, such as nurses and social workers, can answer some of your questions. To find more about speaking with your health care team, see The Doctor-Patient Relationship.