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Talking to Your Doctor About Leukemia

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with leukemia. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your healthcare provider:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
  • What type of leukemia do I have?
  • Do you know why I got leukemia? Might other members of my family be at risk for developing it?
  • Based on my medical history, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for leukemia?
  • Is there anything I can do to reduce my risk?
  • What is the best treatment option for my leukemia?
    • What other options are there?
    • What are the risks and benefits associated with this treatment plan?
  • How long will the treatment last?
  • What side effects can I expect?
  • What will I need to change in my daily routine?
  • How will I feel during treatment? What can I do to help myself feel better during treatment? What can the doctor do to minimize the side effects I might experience?
  • What will I need to do to take care of myself during the treatment period?
  • What will we do if the treatment does not succeed?
  • How do I best protect myself from infections?
  • Will I need to change my diet or other daily habits?
  • Can I exercise? If so, how much can I exercise?
  • Will treatment lead to a cure?
  • How do I know that my treatment program is effective?
  • How will I know if the leukemia has come back and what will we do if it does?
  • Will treatment affect my ability to have children in the future?
  • Should I consider participating in a clinical trial? If one is appropriate for me, what is the cost relative to the cost of conventional treatment?
  • Do you know of a support group I could join?

Revision Information

  • Questions to ask your doctor about cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Updated February 1, 2012. Accessed January 28, 2016.

  • Talking with your doctor. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed January 28, 2016.

  • Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: Updated May 2014. Accessed January 28, 2016.