No parent wants to see his or her child suffer. A diagnosis of cancer in a child is one of the most devastating events in a parent's life. One of the best coping mechanisms is to be informed. Cancer is extremely complex and difficult to understand. It is important to ask as many questions as necessary to be completely clear about the diagnosis and what to expect, and to understand why certain tests are being done. Parents are entitled to a clear explanation about anything related to their child's condition.
To help ensure safe, quality care, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends that you:
In addition to the above, here are some important questions you may consider asking your child's doctor:
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) both recommend that the diagnosis, staging, and treatment of childhood cancers occur in one of the over two hundred centers that specialize in childhood cancers. In these centers, children are treated by a doctor who specializes in the care of children with cancer (pediatric oncologist). Equally important, the child's care is developed within a multidisciplinary team, meaning that a variety of specialists work together to develop the best treatment, or "protocol," for your child.
NCI-desginated cancer centers can be found at cancercenters.cancer.gov/cancer_centers/. In addition to the NCI, the American Cancer Society provides reliable resource information on childhood cancers. The ACS can be contacted at www.cancer.org/Treatment/ChildrenandCancer/ or by calling 800-227-2345.
A cancer diagnosis is a crisis not only for your immediate family, but also for your family's relatives and friends. While reaching out for help, asking doctors numerous questions, and using outside community resources may be hard. In the long run these strategies will help ensure safe care for your child, and emotional and physical support for you and your family.
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Online Resources of Oncology