Sometimes it is difficult to decide on the type of treatment to have.
You may feel that everything is happening too fast. Check with
your doctor how soon your treatment should start, and take as
much time as you can before making a decision.
Understanding the disease, the available treatments and possible
side effects can help you weigh up the pros and cons of different
treatments and make a well-informed decision that’s based on
your personal values. You may also want to discuss the options
with your doctor, friends and family.
You have the right to accept or refuse any treatment offered. Some
people with more advanced cancer choose treatment even if it
offers only a small benefit for a short period. Others want to make
sure the benefits outweigh the side effects so that they have the
best possible quality of life.
Talking with doctors
When your doctor first tells you that you have cancer, you may
not remember the details about what you are told. Taking notes
or recording the discussion may 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.
If you are confused or want clarification, you can ask for further
explanation – see our list of suggested questions. If you
have several questions, you may want to talk to a nurse or ask the
office manager if it is possible to book a longer appointment.
A second opinion
You may want to get a second opinion from another specialist to
confirm or clarify your doctor’s recommendations or reassure you
that you have explored all of your options. Specialists are used to
people doing this.
Your doctor can refer you to another specialist and send your
initial results to that person. You can get a second opinion even if
you have started treatment or still want to be treated by your first
doctor. You might decide you would prefer to be treated by the
doctor who provided the second opinion.
Taking part in a clinical trial
Your doctor or nurse may suggest you take part in a clinical trial.
Doctors run clinical trials to test new or modified treatments and
ways of diagnosing disease to see if they are better than current
methods. For example, if you join a randomised trial for a new
treatment, you will be chosen at random to receive either the best
existing treatment or the modified new treatment.
Over the years, trials have improved treatments and led to better
outcomes for people diagnosed with cancer.
It may be helpful to talk to your specialist or clinical trials nurse,
or to get a second opinion. If you decide to take part, you can
withdraw at any time. For more information, call Cancer Council
13 11 20 for a free copy of Understanding Clinical Trials and
Research or visit our Victorian Cancer Trials Link.