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  • Tips for Talking with Your Child's Doctor

    Lisa Diller, MD, with a pediatric patient and her mother

    An important part of good health care is a good relationship between you and your child's doctor. You must be able to communicate well with each other so your child's needs are met.

    At Dana-Farber, doctors from different specialties, as well as experts in nutrition and other supportive services, may be involved in your child's care. However, it's a good idea for one doctor to be your main source of information.

    Ask yourself, "How much do I want to know?"

    Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor how much, or how little, information you want. You might be an “information junkie” who wants all the facts. Or you may prefer a general overview with simple directions – what pill to give your child, what treatment he or she will have, and when treatment will be done.

    Asking questions

    Here are some basic questions your doctor can answer for you: 

    • What's wrong with my child?
    • What treatment do you recommend?
    • Are there other treatments?
    • What are the benefits of these treatments?
    • What are the risks?
    • What medicines are you giving my child? What are they for?
    • How should my child expect to feel during treatment?
    • What side effects, if any, can my child expect to have?
    •   What long term effects, if any, can my child expect to have?

     Here are some additional questions you may want to ask: 

    •  Who else receives information about my child? Are my records shared?
    •  Will the disease or the treatment keep my from going to school?
    •  Will my child have any physical limitations?

    If your child has persistent low or hopeless feelings, mention this to your doctor. Your child may need help for clinical depression, a treatable illness that can occur along with cancer.  

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