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Young People with Cancer: A Handbook for Parents

  • Posted: 07/31/2003

When to Call the Doctor

Call the Doctor If...

If you have worried about knowing when to call the doctor, you are not alone. Parents want to watch closely for any sign that their child may need to see the doctor but may not be sure what those signs are. They also may worry about "bothering" the doctor or treatment team. The best approach is to ask the doctor when to call about any problems your child may be having. If you are unsure, this list can be used as a guide for when to call the doctor.

Call the Doctor If...

Your child shows signs of infection.

  • Fever (100.4°F or 38°C) or other sign of infection, especially if your child's white count is low. (The doctor will tell you when it is low.) It is important to take your child's temperature with an accurate thermometer.

Your child has trouble eating.

  • Mouth sores that keep your child from eating
  • Difficulty chewing

Your child has digestive tract problems.

  • Vomiting, unless you have been told that your child may vomit after the cancer treatment
  • Painful urination or bowel movements
  • Constipation that lasts more than 2 days
  • Diarrhea

Your child shows changes in mobility or mood.

  • Trouble walking or bending
  • Trouble talking
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Depression or a sudden change in behavior

Your child has troublesome symptoms.

  • Bleeding, including nosebleeds, red or black bowel movements, pink, red, or brown urine, or many bruises
  • Severe or continuing headaches
  • Pain anywhere in the body
  • Red or swollen areas

Your child needs treatment for other health concerns.

  • Before your child receives immunizations or dental care, even scheduled vaccinations or regular dental checkups
  • Before you give your child any over-the-counter medication

You are in any doubt whatsoever?

You can find more information about these topics in this booklet under Common Health Issues.