Talking to healthcare staff

Your healthcare team can give you information and support during and after cancer treatment. They are experts and will understand the issues you may have. If you have questions about sex or relationships, ask them. They will understand that these questions are important to you.

You may have questions that you don’t want to ask in front of your family, partner or other people. Let your doctor or nurse know that you want to talk about something privately. They will arrange a time and place to do this. Or there may be someone in the team that you feel more comfortable with, and you can ask to talk to them.

If you finished cancer treatment some time ago, you can ask questions at your follow-up clinic appointments or talk to your GP. Remember, your healthcare team often talks to people about sex, feelings and how the body works. They will not be surprised or embarrassed.

What can you ask?

You can ask your healthcare team about anything. If something worries you, it has probably been a problem for someone else too. You might want to talk about your feelings and how you are coping. You may also have questions about how your body works now or about having sex.

You don’t need to know all the right words about sex or your body. Just explain what is wrong in your own words and say how you feel about it. If someone uses words that you don’t understand, ask them to explain. If the information or support doesn’t help, ask again.

How can they help?

Your healthcare team may be able to give you information or support to cope with a problem. They may also know about other people who can help you. Sometimes they can arrange for you to see other professionals, for example a specialist doctor, counsellor or social worker. Or they may give you information about other organisations or groups that you can contact.

Will they tell anyone else?

Your healthcare team will usually keep anything you share with them private. That means they will not tell other people that you have spoken to them, or what you talked about, unless you want them to. This is even if you are under 16.

The only time they will tell someone else is if they think you have been harmed or are at risk of harm. This is rare, and they will try to tell you first if they are going to do this.

Sometimes a professional may ask your permission to talk to other professionals who are seeing you. For example, a counsellor may want to tell your doctor that they have seen you. But it is your decision whether you want this information to be shared.