Chemotherapy - what to ask your doctor
You are having chemotherapy, medicines used to kill cancer cells. You may receive chemotherapy by mouth, by injection under the skin, through an intravenous (IV) line. 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.
What to ask your doctor about chemotherapy
Am I at risk of infections?
- What foods should I avoid so that I do not get an infection?
- 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 of bleeding? Is it okay to shave? What should I do if I cut myself or start bleeding?
What over-the-counter medicines can 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 foods or vitamins I should avoid?
Are there any medicines I should keep on hand?
Are there any medicines I should not take?
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? Do I need to use sunscreen? Do I need to stay indoors during cold weather?
What can I do about my fatigue?
When should I call the doctor?
Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.