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Supporting people with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Questions to ask the doctor

Keypoints

  • It is important for patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma to think about any questions they might have before each visit
  • No question is 'too simple' or 'too stupid', as it is essential for patients to properly understand their condition
  • Often other members of the lymphoma team can be the best people to queston as well as the specialist doctor

Introduction

Questions to ask the doctor will, of course, be different for every patient. But it is worth thinking about these questions before an appointment, rather than trying to come up with questions during the time with the doctor.

It is very important that people with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma have a good understanding of their condition. They also need to understand the reasons for the tests that they have, and why they are being offered certain treatments. In addition, patients need to know how non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and its treatment might affect their life, both during and after treatment.


Questions to ask the doctor

Sometimes, patients feel that the doctor is too busy or in too much of a rush to answer all the questions that they have. In that case, the patient should ask the doctor: who will be able to help me? Often, another doctor on the team, the clinical nurse specialist or one of the other lymphoma nurses may be the right person to ask.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a serious condition and one that can have a big impact on the life of the person who has it. Some patients therefore feel that they would like a second opinion, and this is not unreasonable. If so, this should be aired with the doctor too. Usually, the most sensible time for a second opinion is before treatment has started or perhaps before a new type of treatment is embarked upon - it is not generally helpful to seek a second opinion in the middle of a course of treatment.

Some questions to think about asking at the time of diagnosis, before treatment has begun

  • What kind of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is it? Is it graded as indolent or aggressive? What stage is it at?
  • What are the treatment options? If there is more than one choice, which would you recommend for me?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various treatments?
  • What are the chances that the treatment will be successful?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
  • How long will each treatment last?
  • How will treatment affect my normal life (work, family, etc.)?

This link takes you to a printable list of these questions with space for you to write your own notes.

To open and read this document you will require Adobe's Acrobat Reader programme, which is free to download and use.

Alternatively you can read and print a text version of these pages here.

Some questions to think about when starting treatment

  • What is the aim of this treatment?
  • What treatments are involved? How do they work?
  • How is the treatment given? How long does the course of treatment last? How often is it given?
  • Will the treatment have to be given in hospital, or can it be done on an outpatient basis?
  • If it is in hospital, how long am I likely to have to stay in hospital for each treatment session?
  • If it is on an outpatient basis, how many hours is each treatment session likely to take?
  • Will treatment affect my normal activities? If so, for how long? Might it be necessary to take time off work or to make special arrangements?
  • How do we know if the treatment is working?
  • What are my chances of a remission? How long is a remission likely to last?
  • What side effects might there be? Are there things I can do to avoid these side effects, or at least to minimise them?
  • What side effects should be reported?
  • When should I contact the specialist if I am worried about something? When is it more appropriate to contact the nurse? What about the family doctor?

This link takes you to a printable list of these questions with space for you to write your own notes.

To open and read this document you will require Adobe's Acrobat Reader program, which is free to download and use.

Alternatively you can read and print a text version of these pages here.

Some questions to think about after treatment has finished

  • What will successful treatment mean for me and how long will the benefits last?
  • What further tests might be needed? How often might they be needed?
    What will these tests show?
  • How often will I have to attend the clinic? For how long?
  • What happens if the NHL relapses?
  • Is there anything we can do to keep the disease away during remission?

This link takes you to a printable list of these questions with space for you to write your own notes.

To open and read this document you will require Adobe's Acrobat Reader program, which is free to download and use.

Alternatively you can read and print a text version of these pages here.


 

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