Giving consent for treatment
Before you have any treatment, your doctor will explain the aims of the treatment to you. You will usually be asked to sign a form saying that you give your permission (consent) for the hospital staff to give it. No medical treatment can be given without your consent. Before you are asked to sign the form you should have been given full information about:
the type and extent of the treatment you are advised to have
the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment
any other treatments that may be available
any significant risks or side effects of the treatment.
Bring a friend or relative
If you don’t understand what you have been told, let the staff know straight away so that they can explain it again. Some cancer treatments are complex, so it’s not unusual for people to need repeated explanations. It’s often a good idea to have a friend or relative with you when the treatment is explained. This can help you remember the discussion more fully. You may also find it useful to write down a list of questions before you go to your appointment.
Ask questions – and for more time if you need it
Patients often feel that hospital staff are too busy to answer their questions, but it’s important for you to be aware of how the treatment is likely to affect you. The staff should be willing to make time for you to ask questions. You can talk to your specialist nurse at the hospital or to our specialist nurses. You can always ask for more time to decide about the treatment if you feel that you can’t make a decision when it’s first explained to you.
You are free to choose not to have the treatment
The staff can explain what may happen if you don’t have it. It’s important to tell a doctor or your nurse if you decide not to have treatment, so that they can record your decision in your medical notes. You don’t have to give a reason for not wanting to have treatment, but it can be helpful to let the staff know your concerns so that they can give you the best advice.