Talking to Your Doctor About Leukemia
Michael Jubinville, MPH
You have your own health past. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and background with leukemia. By talking openly and often with your doctor, you can make the best choices for you and your family.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
- 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 grasp what you are hearing. Ask for help, if needed.
- Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What type of leukemia do I have?
- Do you know why I got leukemia?
Are other members of my family at risk for it?
About Your Risk of Leukemia
- Based on my health past, lifestyle, and family background, am I at risk for leukemia?
- Is there anything I can do to lower my risk?
About Treatment Options
What are the best treatments for my leukemia?
- What other options are there?
- What are the risks and benefits of using 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 lower the side effects I might have?
- What will I need to do to take care of myself during treatment?
- What will we do if the treatment does not succeed?
About Lifestyle Changes
- 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?
About Your Outlook
- Will treatment lead to a cure?
- How do I know if my treatment is working?
- How will I know if the leukemia has come back and what will we do if it does?
- Will treatment keep me from having children?
- Should I consider participating in a clinical trial?
If one is right for me, what is the cost compared to treatment that exists?
- Do you know of a support group I could join?
Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed March 13, 2019.
Talking with your health care team. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/adjusting-to-cancer/talk-with-doctors. Updated September 26, 2018. Accessed March 13, 2019.
The doctor-patient relationship. American Cancer Society
website. Available at:
https://www.cancer.org/treatment/understanding-your-diagnosis/talking-about-cancer/the-doctor-patient-relationship.html. Updated May 25, 2016. Accessed December 21, 2018.
Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 3/13/2019