How treatment is planned

A team of specialists including a surgeon, cancer doctor and specialist nurse meet to discuss the best treatment options for you. This is called a multidisciplinary team (MDT).

After the meeting your cancer doctor and specialist nurse will talk to you about your treatment options and their advantages and disadvantages. They may ask you to make decisions about treatments. You may find it useful to have a relative or friend with you to help you remember the discussion. It can help to prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor.

You can always ask for more time if you feel that you cannot make a decision when your treatment is first explained to you. You need to give permission (consent) before doctors can start your treatment.

How treatment is planned

A team of specialists meet to discuss the best treatment options for your situation. This multidisciplinary team (MDT) includes:

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

After the MDT meeting, your cancer doctor or specialist nurse will talk to you about the treatment options. You can decide together on the best treatment plan for you.

I had four people sit with me and each individual told me what they were going to do and the role they played.

Sandra


Giving your 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.

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 do not understand what you have been told, let the staff know straight away, so they can explain again. Some cancer treatments are complex, so it is not unusual to need repeated explanations.

It is 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 is 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 do not have it. It is essential to tell a doctor or the nurse in charge, so they can record your decision in your medical notes. You do not 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.

Back to Making treatment decisions

Getting a second opinion

Your treatment will be planned using national guidelines, but you may still want another medical opinion.

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.