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Chemotherapy - what to ask your doctor

Definition

You are having chemotherapy, drugs used to kill cancer cells. You may receive chemotherapy drugs by mouth or through a needle (injection). Your doctor or nurse 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.

Alternate Names

What to ask your doctor about chemotherapy

Questions

Am I at risk for infections?

  • What foods should I avoid?
  • Is my water at home okay 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 okay 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 for bleeding? Is it okay to shave? What should I do if I cut myself or start bleeding?

What over-the-counter medications an 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 medications I should keep on hand?

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 okay to be out in the sun? How about cold weather?

What can I do about my fatigue?

When should I call the doctor?


Review Date: 10/11/2010
Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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.
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