Cancer has just been diagnosed. Your mind is stumbling. And now your doctor wants you to sort out the cancer treatment options and help decide on a plan.
But how do you decide on a cancer treatment plan? Here are five steps to guide you to a doctor's partner in determining and managing your cancer treatment.
Step 1: Set the ground rules.
Before you look at the treatment options, you must set some basic rules. You'll be better off with the cancer treatment decisions you make, if you:
Decide how much you want to know. While most people want to know exactly what their treatment is and what their chances of survival are, others do not. If you do not want to know all the details, tell your doctor.
Make sure you tell your doctor if you want someone who can help you hear the news at this difficult time.  Decide how you want to make your treatment decisions. You may want to take the lead in decision-making. Or you want to leave all decisions to your doctor. You may also be in the middle and share the decision-making process with your doctor.
It may be helpful to think about how you dealt with difficult decisions in the past. And it can be helpful to have a close friend or family member on your dates to help you make that decision.
Do you have realistic expectations. Your doctor can give you an idea of what you can expect from any type of treatment. The side effects that you would like to suffer depend on the benefits of the treatment. Tell your doctor about your preferences.
Keep the focus on you. Do not be forced into a specific treatment option. Choose what you feel most comfortable with.
Accept help. They are supported throughout the treatment. Support can be obtained from your doctor, friends and family.
If you do not feel supported in your decision-making, contact contact groups such as the American Cancer Society, which may link you to cancer survivors. You can help through this process.
It may be helpful to write down your expectations and preferences before meeting with your doctor. This could help you better express your hopes and feelings about your cancer treatment.
Step 2: Decide on a goal.
When you decide what you want from the treatment, you can limit your treatment decisions. Do you hope for a cure, a stabilization or just a relief of the symptoms?
Depending on the type and stage of your cancer, you can set the following treatment goals:
- Cure. If you are diagnosed for the first time, it is likely that you are. I will be interested in treatments that cure cancer. If healing is possible, you may be willing to suffer short-term side effects to get the chance for a cure.
- control. If your cancer is at a later date or the previous treatments were unsuccessful You could adapt your target to control your cancer. Various treatments may try to temporarily reduce or stop the cancer. If this is your goal, you may not be willing to endure the side effects of harsh treatments.
- comfort. If you have an advanced stage of cancer or have not responded to treatment, you might decide that comfort is most important to you. You and your doctor will work together to make sure you are free from pain and other symptoms.
Step 3: Research your treatment options.
To make a judicious treatment decision, consider what type of cancer you have. its stage and what treatment options are available and how likely these treatments will be under these circumstances. Talk to your doctor about trusted websites, books, and patient materials to supplement your discussions.
Cancer treatments are sometimes used together. For example, it is common to combine surgery or radiation with chemotherapy. Doctors sometimes refer to a treatment that is used as adjuvant therapy after initial treatment.
Step 4: Analyze the benefits versus the risks.
Compare the benefits and risks of various cancer treatments to help decide which treatments are in your case. Evaluate the treatments you are considering based on the pros and cons of each method.
Some aspects that you should consider in any treatment are:
- Side Effects Take time to review the side effects of each treatment treatment and decide if they are worth bearing out or too much handle. Your doctor can give you a good idea of how common the various side effects are for each treatment, and you can explain the treatment options for side effects to make the treatment more bearable.
- What effect does the treatment have on your life? everyday life. Do you need a working day or several weeks off? How will your role in your family change? Do you need to travel for your treatment? How does the treatment affect your ability to find or retain employment? Understand that you have certain rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act that covers patients with cancer and can help protect your employment.
- The financial cost of a treatment. Investigate what types of treatments are covered by your insurance. If a treatment or aspect of treatment is not covered, can you afford it? Contact your insurance company,
- your health in general. If you have any other health problems, ask your doctor how the treatment will affect them. For example, corticosteroids are often used in people suffering from cancer. This could complicate the treatment of diabetes and reduce the risk of cataracts, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
Your personal values and goals can help determine which treatments are best for you. Only you can decide which type of treatment suits your life best. But you do not have to make a choice and stick to it. You may change your mind during the treatment and that's fine.
Step 5: Communicate with your doctor.
Effective communication with your doctor is the best way to ensure that you get the information you need to make an informed decision. To help communicate with your doctor, try the following:
- Speak if you do not understand. If you need further explanation or explanation, tell your doctor. If you do not comment, your doctor may think you understood.
- Write your questions in advance. Appointments can be exhausting and emotional. Do not expect to remember all the questions you want to ask.
- Record your conversations. Try to keep track of what your doctor is telling you by taking notes. You can also ask if it is okay to start the conversation. This record is a good reference if you have questions later.
- Bring someone with you. If you want to share your medical information with a friend or family member, bring someone to take notes. Then you have another person with whom you can talk about your treatment decisions.
- Keep copies of your medical records. Ask for copies of your medical records and bring them to each appointment.
Do not expect you and your doctor to fully understand each other after a meeting. It can take a few conversations until you both feel like you're on the same page.
Other Things to Remember
Your treatment decisions with your doctor should be based on the following points:
Take your time. Even if you have a cancer diagnosis and feel that you need to make decisions immediately to begin therapy, in most situations you have time to make a choice. Ask your doctor how much time you have to decide.
You can change your mind at any time. If you make a treatment decision now, this option will not bind you. Tell your doctor if you have any concerns. Significant side effects may cause you to change your treatment plan.
You can get a second opinion. Do not be afraid to offend your doctor if you want to get a second opinion. Most doctors understand the need for a second opinion when they have to make an important decision.
You do not have to be involved in treatment decisions. If you want to tell your doctor that you do not want to be involved in the decision making process. You can always get involved later if you feel more comfortable with the situation. Let your doctor know who you want to decide about your treatment.
You do not need treatment. Some people do not opt for treatment at all. People with very advanced cancers sometimes find they prefer to treat the pain and other side effects of their cancer to make the most of the time they spend.
If you do not want to be treated, you can always change your mind. Refraining from a treatment does not mean that you have to stay alone – there are many ways to control side effects.
Which treatment is best for you? There is no one hundred percent correct or wrong answer. However, if you are involved in your treatment plan, you can feel reassured and focus on what you need to do most – to stay healthy throughout the treatment.
Publication Date: 2002-12-04