Questions to Ask Your Radiation Oncologist

Questions you might like to ask your radiation oncologist

The Radiotherapy

  • What is the goal of the proposed treatment?
  • What other options do I have besides radiotherapy? What are the risks associated with them?
  • How effective so you expect the radiotherapy to be, in terms of ensuring there’s no return of the cancer.
  • What type of radiation? (If it is the only one offered at their location ask if there are locations that offer other types that might be more favourable to your treatment.)
  • How much radiation per session?
  • How many days of treatment will be applied.
  • Is the dosage constant for each treatment or does it gradually increase
  • Why was this type of radiation selected?  Are there any other options?
  • How focused will it be?
  • How many fields will be radiated?
  • How long will each session be
  • Who exactly will be doing the treatments?
  • How many patients with my condition have you treated?  Tell me about their outcome.
  • Are you making any changes to my treatment plan based on your previous experiences?


The side effects and their care.

  • Will the hospital attend to my dental needs before the radiation begins?
  • Should I have any teeth extracted?
  • What can be done to protect my teeth?  Will they be recommending dental trays and  fluoride treatments?  Do they recommend use of a particular toothpaste? Mouthwash?
  • What are both the short and long term risks and side effects?
  • What can be done to protect me from them?
  • What can be done to protect my mouth from sores?
  • What can be done to protect my hearing?  Can any kind of ear plug help?
  • What can be done to protect my tongue?
  • Will I have made a mouth guard to wear during the treatment to protect my tongue?
  • What can be done to keep your mouth moist?
  • What can be done to ease the damage to my skin.
  • What about weight loss?
  • How long can I expect the short-term side effects to last?
  • Will I be alright living on my own during this treatment, or will I need assistance?

The Equipment

  • Is the machine inspected and certified? 
  • What type of machine are you using? IMRT, Tomotherapy, etc.
  • How long have you been using it?
  • Is this the best machine for my condition?


   Is there anything I should avoid during treatment?

  • Should I change my diet or lifestyle? Before, during or after this treatment?
  • Who should I call for unexpected problems?  (Anyone different outside of office hours?)
  • Who should I call for any questions or concerns?
  •  If you have any existing medical conditions (diabetes for example)- ask if there are any special concerns