How treatment is planned

A team of specialists will meet to discuss and decide on the best treatment for you. After the MDT meeting, your doctor will talk to you about your treatment choices. This multidisciplinary team (MDT) will include:

  • a specialist breast surgeon
  • a breast reconstruction surgeon
  • a specialist breast care nurse who gives information and support
  • clinical oncologists – doctors who specialise in treating cancer using radiotherapy and drug treatments (such as hormonal therapy)
  • a radiologist who reads mammograms and analyses scans
  • a pathologist who examines cells under the microscope and advises on the type and extent of the cancer.

The MDT may also include other healthcare professionals, such as a research nurse, a physiotherapist, counsellor, psychologist or a social worker.

Making treatment decisions

Some people find it very hard to make decisions about treatment. If you’re asked to choose between treatments or whether to have treatment, make sure that you have enough information. Your specialist can explain what’s involved and any possible side effects of the treatment so you can decide what’s right for you.

Some women with DCIS are concerned about having treatment for a condition that isn’t life-threatening. However, most women accept that it’s important to treat DCIS to prevent it from developing into an invasive cancer. The aim of treatment is to reduce the risk of developing invasive breast cancer.

Because there are different options, it’s important to think about what’s right for you. DCIS doesn’t need to be treated urgently, so you can take time to think things over. You should ask questions or discuss anything you don’t understand with your surgeon or breast care nurse.

Giving consent

Before you have any treatment, your doctor will explain its aims. They will usually ask you to sign a form saying that you give permission (consent) for the hospital staff to give you the treatment. No medical treatment can be given without your consent, and before you are asked to sign the form you should be given full information about:

  • the type and extent of the treatment
  • its advantages and disadvantages
  • any significant risks or side effects
  • any other treatments that may be available.

If you don't understand what you've been told, let the staff know straight away, so they can explain again. Some cancer treatments are complex, so it's not unusual to need repeated explanations. It's a good idea to have a relative or friend with you when the treatment is explained, to help you remember the discussion. You may also find it useful to write a list of questions before your appointment.

People sometimes feel that hospital staff are too busy to answer their questions, but it's important for you to know how the treatment is likely to affect you. The staff should be willing to make time for your questions.

You can always ask for more time if you feel that you can't make a decision when your treatment is first explained to you.

You are also free to choose not to have the treatment. The staff can explain what may happen if you don't have it. It’s essential to tell a doctor or the nurse in charge, so they can record your decision in your medical notes. You don't have to give a reason for not wanting treatment, but it can help to let the staff know your concerns so they can give you the best advice.

If you decide not to have treatment, a senior doctor will talk to you to make sure you are aware of all the options available. You will also be advised that you will be seen any time if you change your mind.

Back to Who will be involved in my treatment decision?

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.