How treatment is planned

A team of specialists will meet to discuss and decide on the best treatment for you. This multidisciplinary team (MDT) will include:

  • a surgeon who specialises in breast surgery
  • oncologists (cancer specialists) who specialise in chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and targeted therapy
  • a specialist breast care nurse who gives information and support
  • a radiologist who analyses x-rays and scans
  • a pathologist who advises on the type and extent of the cancer.

It may also include other healthcare professionals, such as a physiotherapist, a research nurse, psychologist, plastic surgeon and social worker or counsellor.

The MDT will look at a number of factors to help decide which treatments are likely to work best for you. These include:

After the MDT meeting, your cancer specialist or nurse will talk to you about the best treatment for your situation.

Giving consent

Before you have any treatment, your doctor will explain its aims. They will ask you to sign a form saying that you give permission (consent) for the hospital staff to give you the treatment.

No medical treatment can be given without your consent.

Before you are asked to sign the form, you should be given full information about:

  • the type and extent of the treatment
  • its advantages and disadvantages
  • any significant risks or side effects
  • any other treatments that may be available.

If you don’t understand what you’ve been told, let the staff know straight away, so they can explain again. Some cancer treatments are complex, so it’s not unusual to need repeated explanations.

It’s a good idea to have a relative or friend with you when the treatment is explained, to help you remember the discussion.

You may also find it useful to write a list of questions before your appointment.

People sometimes feel that hospital staff are too busy to answer their questions, but it’s important for you to know how the treatment is likely to affect you. The staff should be willing to make time for your questions.

You can always ask for more time if you feel that you can’t make a decision when your treatment is first explained to you.

You are also free to choose not to have the treatment. The staff can explain what may happen if you don’t have it. It’s essential to tell a doctor or the nurse in charge, so they can record your decision in your medical notes. You don’t have to give a reason for not wanting treatment, but it can help to let the staff know your concerns so they can give you the best advice.

Back to Who will be involved in my treatment decision?

Getting a second opinion

There are many reasons for wanting a second opinion about your treatment. Speak to your specialist or GP.

Making a complaint

Talking to your healthcare team can make it easier to cope. If you find talking difficult, there are things you can do.