Talking to your healthcare team

Diagnosis and treatment can be a worrying and confusing time. Even after your treatment is over you may worry about what the future may bring or whether the cancer will come back.

Talking to your healthcare team can help. Many people feel better and more in control when they know what is happening to them and why.

People often feel that hospital staff are too busy to answer their questions, but it’s important for you to understand what’s happening and how the cancer and its treatment is likely to affect you. The staff should be willing to make time for your questions.

Your family and friends may also have questions to ask. Your healthcare team should be happy to answer their questions, if they have your permission to. They can also give your family and friends advice on how they can care for you. We have more information for people supporting someone with cancer.

If you don't speak English

If you don’t understand or speak English very well, the hospital can arrange an interpreter for you when you meet with your doctor or other members of the healthcare team. 

Interpreters translate everything your doctor says to you and everything you want to say back. You may have to ask in advance for your hospital to arrange an interpreter.

There are also people called advocates who can talk on your behalf and make sure your healthcare team knows about any wishes you have.

The Macmillan Support Line has an interpretation service in over 200 languages. Call free on 0808 808 00 00.

If you have hearing or speech difficulties

You may want to bring someone with you to speak on your behalf or sign any conversation you have with your doctor. You can also ask your doctors or nurses to write things down for you. Action on Hearing Loss can give you further information and support.

If you're partially sighted

If you’re partially sighted you can ask for written information to be provided in large print. Some organisations, including Macmillan, can provide information in Braille or as an audio CD. You can also ask your doctor if it’s okay to record their conversations with you.

You can get further information and support from RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People).

Back to Who will be involved in my treatment decision?

How treatment is planned

A group of healthcare professionals will develop your treatment plan. But the decision to start treatment is yours.

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.