Making decisions about treatment
Sometimes, it is very hard to decide what is the right treatment for you. You may feel that everything is happening so fast that you do not have time to think things through. Waiting for test results and for treatment to begin can be very difficult.
While some people feel they have too much information, others may feel that they do not have enough. You may find knowing more about your cancer and treatments may help you make decisions.
If you are offered a choice of treatments, you will need to weigh up the good and bad points about each treatment. If only one type of treatment is recommended, ask your doctor to explain why other treatment choices have not been offered.
Some people with advanced cancer will always choose treatment, even if it only offers a small chance of cure. Others want to make sure that the benefits of treatment outweigh any side effects. Still others will choose the treatment they consider offers them the best quality of life. Some may choose not to have treatment except to have any symptoms managed as they arise.
You may want to see your doctor a few times before making a final decision on treatment. It is often hard to take everything in, and you may need to ask the same questions more than once. You always have the right to find out what a suggested treatment means for you, and the right to accept or refuse it.
Before you see the doctor, it may help to write down your questions. There is a list of questions to ask your doctor at the end of this booklet which may help you. The Cancer Society has a booklet titled Questions You May Wish To Ask. To receive a copy, call the cancer information nurses on the
Cancer Information Helpline 0800 CANCER (226 237), contact your local Cancer Society for a copy or view and download a copy on the Cancer Society’s website.
Taking notes during the session 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. Some people find it is helpful to record the discussion (but check with your doctor first).
Once you have discussed treatment options with your doctor, you may want to talk them over with your family or friends, with nursing staff, the hospital social worker or chaplain or your own religious or spiritual adviser. Talking it over can help to sort out what course of action is right for you.
You may be interested in looking for information about your cancer type on the internet. While there are some very good websites, you need to be aware that some websites provide wrong or biased information. We recommend that you begin with the Cancer Society’s website and use our links to find other good cancer sites. If you’ve got questions about your cancer, phone the cancer information nurses on the Cancer Information Helpline 0800 CANCER (226 237).
See the section on supportive care services for more information on the support the Cancer Society can offer you.
‘I think you need to trust your specialist. If you don’t, then get another one. But if you trust them, and work with them, you’ll come out as best as you possibly can. You don’t have to be friends: they may be quite abrupt, and may not want to sit at the end of your bed and have a chat. But it’s the trust that’s important.’ Sarah
Most women with early cancer of the uterus will be cured of their disease. For women with more advanced cancer, a cure may still be possible. For other women, treatment can keep the cancer under control for long periods of time.
You will need to talk with your gynaecological oncologist about your own prognosis (outlook).
You may want to ask for a second opinion from another specialist. Your specialist or GP can refer you to another specialist. You can ask for copies of your results to be sent to the second doctor. You can still ask for a second opinion even if you have already started treatment or still want to be treated by your first doctor.
Clinical trials are research studies to find better ways to treat cancer.
If your doctor suggests taking part in a clinical trial, make sure that you fully understand the reasons for the trial and what it means for you. Before deciding whether or not to join the trial, you may wish to ask your doctor:
What is the standard (best available) treatment for my cancer if I don’t go in the trial?
Which treatments are being tested and why?
Which tests are involved?
What are the possible risks or side effects?
How long will the trial last?
Will I need to go into hospital for treatment?
What will I do if any problems occur while I am in the trial?
Will I need to come to hospital more often?
If you do join a clinical trial, you have the right to withdraw at any time. Doing so will not affect your treatment for cancer.
It is always your decision to take part in a clinical trial. If you do not want to take part, your doctor will discuss the best current treatment choices with you.
The Cancer Society has a booklet titled Cancer Clinical Trials. To receive a copy, call the cancer information nurses on the Cancer Information Helpline 0800 CANCER (226 237), contact your local Cancer Society for a copy or view and download a copy from the Cancer Society’s website.