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Questions to Ask About Nasopharyngeal Cancer

It is important to have honest, open discussions with your cancer care team. They want to answer all your questions to help you make informed treatment and life decisions.

Other health care professionals, such as dietitians, nurses, and social workers, can also answer some of your questions. You can find more tips about speaking with your health care team in The Doctor-Patient Relationship.

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 your work schedule. Or you may want to ask about getting a second opinion or about clinical trials for which you may qualify. Consider these questions to get you started.

When you’re told you have nasopharyngeal cancer

  • What kind of nasopharyngeal cancer do I have? Does this affect my treatment options?
  • Has my cancer spread outside the nasopharynx?
  • What is the stage of the cancer and what does that mean?
  • Will I need other tests before we can decide on treatment?
  • Do I need to see other doctors or health professionals?
  • If I’m concerned about the costs and insurance coverage for my diagnosis and treatment, who can help me?
  • Is there a clinical trial available you think I should get more information about?
  • If the cancer is stage 4, has it been tested for certain proteins or gene changes to help figure out my treatment options?

When you're deciding on a treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer

  • How much experience do you have treating this type of cancer?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What treatment do you recommend and why?
  • What's the goal of the treatment?
  • Will this treatment affect the way I look? If so, what are my options for reconstruction?
  • What are the chances the cancer can be cured with this treatment?
  • How quickly do I need to decide on treatment?
  • What should I do to be ready for treatment?
  • Will I need a feeding tube before starting treatment?
  • What if I need transportation getting to and from treatment?
  • How long will treatment last? What will it be like? Where will it be done?
  • Will treatment affect my daily activities? Can I still work full time?
  • What risks and side effects can I expect? How long are they likely to last?
  • Is there anything I can do to help reduce side effects?
  • Is treatment likely to affect my speech or swallowing? Is there anything I can do to help minimize this?
  • What are the chances that my cancer will come back (recur)?
  • What would we do if the treatment doesn’t work or if the cancer recurs?

During treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer

  • How will I know if the treatment is working?
  • Is there anything I can do to help manage side effects?
  • What symptoms or side effects should I tell you about right away?
  • How can I reach you on nights, holidays, or weekends?
  • Do I need to change what I eat during treatment?
  • Are there any limits on what I can do or what I can eat?
  • Can I exercise during treatment? If so, what kind should I do, and how often?
  • Can you suggest a mental health professional I can see if I start to feel overwhelmed, depressed, or distressed?
  • What if I need social support during treatment because my family lives far away?

After treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer

  • Will I need a special diet after treatment?
  • Are there any limits on what I can do?
  • What symptoms should I watch for?
  • What kind of exercise should I do now?
  • What type of follow-up will I need after treatment?
  • How often will I need to have follow-up exams and imaging tests?
  • When should I have my next endoscopy?
  • Will I need any blood tests?
  • How will we know if the cancer has come back? What should I watch for?
  • What will my options be if the cancer comes back?


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 editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Revised: August 1, 2022

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