How much information you need is up to you. Some people want to find out as much as they can about each treatment option. Others prefer to know just a little.
The doctors and specialist nurses treating you (your healthcare team) will encourage you to become involved in your care. Your healthcare team will support you and answer your questions. Then you can make decisions about your treatment together.
You may have to make more decisions about your treatment if your situation changes.
Information about the cancer
To help you make a decision about cancer treatment, it is useful to know a bit about the cancer, how it is affecting you and why you need treatment. This will help you understand your treatment options and make sense of other information.
Your healthcare team will usually be able to tell you:
- where in the body the cancer started, such as the breast, bowel or prostate
- what type of cancer it is
- the size of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body – this is its stage
- how fast-growing the cancer may be – this is its grade.
Information about the treatment
It can help to know what each treatment involves and how the options may differ. It is useful to know:
- the aims of the treatment (see below)
- how the treatment will be given and how this may affect your day-to-day life
- the possible side effects of the treatment (see below)
- what will happen if you do not have treatment
- if there are other treatments available.
You should be able to get all the information from your healthcare team. They should also be able to answer your questions and give you some written information to take home. You may find that this is all you need, and you will want to get on with the treatment. Or you may want more information before making a decision.
What further information do you need?
Before you look for further information, think about what you really want to know. What would help you decide about the treatment options you have been offered? Do you need more medical information, or do you want to know more about the side effects and practical aspects of the treatment?