Before deciding on any course of treatment, you may want to find out as much as possible about your options. Your doctors and nurses will talk to you about what treatments may be suitable for you, taking into account your preferences and how treatment may affect you. This will help you decide on the best course of treatment together.
Treatment for advanced cancer usually aims to try to control the cancer and help you live longer. It may also help improve your symptoms and quality of life. Controlling the cancer might mean shrinking the size of the tumour or stopping it from growing for a while. As well as treatment for the cancer, your doctors will prescribe any other medicines you need to manage symptoms.
The treatment that is best for you will depend on the type of cancer and where it is in your body.
You may need to have a few treatments before you and your doctor can decide whether to continue with a full course. For example, if you are having chemotherapy to control or shrink the cancer, you may have a scan after several weeks to see what effect the treatment is having. You can carry on with the course of treatment if the scan results show it is working.
However, there may come a time when the treatment has little effect on the cancer. You may start getting the side effects of the treatment without any of the benefits. Making treatment decisions in these circumstances is always difficult. You may want to talk with your cancer doctor (oncologist), specialist nurse and family before deciding what to do.
If you decide not to have treatment, you will be given supportive (palliative) care with medicines to control any symptoms. These may include drugs to manage pain or stop you feeling sick (nausea). You might also be given cancer treatments to ease symptoms. For example, radiotherapy can help with pain as well as being a cancer treatment.