When your doctor first tells you that you have cancer, it is very stressful and you may not remember very much. It is often difficult to take everything in, so you may want to see the doctor a few times before deciding on treatment. Your doctor may use medical terms you don’t understand; it’s okay to ask your doctor to explain something again.
Before you see the doctor, it may help to write down your questions. Taking notes during the session or recording the discussion can also help. Many people like to have a family member or friend go with them, to take part in the discussion, take notes or simply listen.
Sometimes you may be asked to take part in a clinical trial, which is a research study of a new treatment method.
Making the right decision for you
Making a decision about treatment can be complex and frightening, but most people make complex decisions every day – often without realising it. For example, crossing the road involves risk of injury and death, and requires you to consider complex information about where cars are and the speed at which they are travelling, before you decide that it is safe to cross. Deciding which car to buy and where to live are also complex decisions, but most people make these decisions successfully many times during their life.
When deciding which treatment option is best for you, you can consider:
- your personal and family needs
- the expected outcomes of each treatment option
- the likelihood that success or complications will occur.
Doctors and other health practitioners know a lot about the treatments they recommend, but only you know about your lifestyle, the demands of your job and family and your personal needs and preferences. That is why you should participate in decision-making about your health care.