Deciding whether to have treatment

Treatment can be given for different reasons. You may have treatment that aims to cure or to control a tumour for some time. Or you may have treatment to control the symptoms of a tumour. The possible benefits will depend on your situation.

However, treatments can also have their own risks and side effects. These may be easy to manage or they may be more serious. Some risks are very common while others may only affect a few people.

You may have to weigh up any possible risks or side effects against the benefits of treatment. Your specialist doctor or nurse will talk to you about this. They will explain any risks or side effects and ways to reduce or manage them.

Making your decision

Making decisions about treatment can be difficult. You may need to talk in detail to your doctor or nurse. If you are not ready to make a decision, you can always ask for more time.

You may choose not to have the treatment. Your doctor or nurse can explain what may happen in this situation and your other options. You don’t have to give a reason for not wanting a treatment. But if you do, your doctor or nurse may be able to give you clearer information and support.

Whatever you decide, tell your doctor or nurse so they can record your decision in your medical notes.

Our booklet Making treatment decisions has advice about making important decisions about your treatment. Call us on 0808 808 00 00 and we can send you the information you need.

Second opinion

Your multidisciplinary team (MDT) use their experience and knowledge and national treatment guidelines to decide on the best treatment for you. Even so, you may want another medical opinion. You can ask your specialist doctor or your GP to refer you to another specialist for a second opinion.

This may delay the start of your treatment, so you and your doctor need to be confident that it will give you useful information. If you do go for a second opinion, it may be a good idea to take a relative or friend with you and have a list of questions ready. This can help you get the most out of the appointment.

Back to Coming to your decision

Finding out your treatment options

Knowing basic information about your type of cancer and different treatments options can help you to make an informed treatment decision.

Making your decision

If you’re struggling to come to a decision about treatment, try following these five steps.