Questions to Ask About Osteosarcoma

It’s important to have honest, open discussions with your health care team. Ask any question, no matter how minor it might seem. For instance, consider these questions:

Before getting a bone biopsy

  • How much experience do you have doing this type of biopsy
  • Are you part of a team that treats bone cancers?
  • What will happen during the biopsy?
  • How long will it take to get the results from the biopsy?

If osteosarcoma has been diagnosed

  • What kind of osteosarcoma do I (does my child) have? Will this affect treatment?
  • Has the cancer spread outside the bone it started in?
  • What is the stage of the cancer, and what does that mean?
  • Do you think all the cancer can be removed (resected)?
  • Will any other tests be needed before we can decide on treatment?
  • Will we need to see any other types of doctors?
  • How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
  • Who else will be part of the treatment team, and what do they do?

When deciding on a treatment plan

  • What are our (my) treatment options?
  • What do you recommend and why?
  • Are there any clinical trials we should consider? How can we find out more about them?
  • What’s the goal of treatment?
  • 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 I (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?
  • What are the possible risks and side effects of the suggested treatments?
  • Which side effects start shortly after treatment and which ones might develop later on?
  • Will treatment affect my child’s ability to grow and develop?
  • Are there fertility issues we need to consider?

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 to you, 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 of the cancer coming back after treatment? What will we do if this happens?
  • What type of follow up and rehab will be needed after treatment?
  • Do you know of any local or online support groups where we can talk to other families who have been through this?

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 you can plan work or school schedules.

Keep in mind that doctors aren’t the only ones who can give you information. Other health care professionals, such as nurses and social workers, can answer some of your questions. To learn more about speaking with your health care team, see The Doctor-Patient Relationship.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

References

Last Revised: October 8, 2020

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