Questions to Ask Before Starting Radiation

Questions to Ask Before Starting Radiation

Reviewed by Jasper Clinical Board

Last updated 5/24/21

If your doctor has recommended radiation as part of your cancer treatment plan, you’ll likely have questions about what’s ahead. From clarifying terminology to going through the timeline of upcoming events, this is an important part of the process, helping you and your caregivers to work as a team to further your health. To get you started, here are some questions you might ask. Know that it’s perfectly okay (and often encouraged) to bring a pen and paper to take notes, to record the conversation, or to bring a companion into the meeting to help you listen, take notes, and gather more information. In addition, always feel free to ask for clarification on (and how to spell) terms you don’t understand.
  1. Can you tell me the name of the radiation treatment that you’re planning to use in my case?
  2. How many Gray (units) of radiation will the overall treatment expose me to, and what is my lifetime limit of radiation?
  3. How often will I come to the clinic for radiation and how long will each visit last?
  4. How many weeks will my radiation treatment last?
  5. How often will I have a chance to talk to the radiation oncologist about my radiation treatment plan?
  6. What do I need to know about the possible side effects of receiving radiation where I will be receiving it?
  7. Are there products specifically you recommend to help with burns?
  8. Will I be needing a permanent tattoo? If so, how large will it be and if I want to remove it how will that work?
  9. Will this impact fertility if I want to have children in the future?
  10. Am I allowed to listen to music or a book while I am getting radiation?
  11. Will anything be immobilizing any part of my body during the radiation? If I feel anxious about this, what suggestions do you have for me to manage my anxiety? Can you prescribe anti-anxiety medication if I find I need it?
  12. When should I call your office about side effects I am experiencing?
  13. When should I go to the emergency room with concerns about side effects or symptoms?
  14. If I were to need radiation for cancer again, would I be able to receive it?
  15. What kind of follow up care will I need to perform to care for myself as I receive radiation and what products or over the counter medications should I have on hand at home?
  16. Are there foods I should be avoiding as I go through radiation?
  17. Are there beverages I should avoid, and how much should I be trying to drink at this time?
  18. What does my caregiver need to know about this treatment? What will my caregiver need to help me with?
  19. What is the plan if my cancer relapses even after going through this treatment and other treatments as recommended?

The content on this website is intended to provide the best possible information for you, but should not be considered—or used as a substitute for—medical advice. If you have questions about your diagnosis or treatment, please contact your health care provider(s). For questions or comments about this content, please email us at