How your treatment is planned

A team of specialists will meet to discuss the best treatment for you. This multidisciplinary team (MDT) will include:

  • a urologist – a surgeon who specialises in treating problems of the urinary system
  • an oncologist – a specialist in cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy drugs and radiotherapy
  • a urology nurse specialist – someone who gives information and support
  • a radiologist – a specialist who helps to analyse scans and x-rays
  • a pathologist – a specialist who advises on the type and extent of the cancer.

It may also include other healthcare professionals, such as a dietitian, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist (OT), a psychologist or a palliative care specialist.

Treatment decisions

Your cancer doctor and specialist nurse will talk to you about your treatment options. They will know what the most effective treatments are, but you know your lifestyle and preferences. They will explain the options available, and they can help you if you need to make decisions about treatment.

Research into kidney cancer is going on all the time. Your specialist may ask you if you would like to take part in a clinical trial.

If you have to decide between treatments, make sure you understand what each treatment involves and any possible side effects. If you have any questions about your treatment, ask your doctor or nurse.

You may find it useful to write down a list of your questions before meeting with your doctor or nurse. If you can, it might help to bring a partner, family member or friend with you to meetings. They can help you remember what was said.

If you feel you cannot make a decision when your treatment is first explained to you, you can always ask for more time. If there is anything you do not understand, ask your doctor or nurse to explain it again. Cancer treatments can be complicated. It is also hard to take things in when you are feeling anxious. You may need to have more than one meeting with your doctor about your treatment.

Getting a second opinion

GP David Plume explains getting a second opinion about your diagnosis or treatment.

About our cancer information videos

Getting a second opinion

GP David Plume explains getting a second opinion about your diagnosis or treatment.

About our cancer information videos

The benefits and disadvantages of treatment

Many people are frightened at the idea of having cancer treatments, particularly because of the side effects that can occur. However, these can usually be controlled with medicines. Treatment can be given for different reasons and the potential benefits will vary depending upon your individual situation.

If the cancer is advanced and has spread to other parts of the body, treatment may only be able to control it, improving symptoms and quality of life. However, for some people in this situation the treatment will have no effect on the cancer and they will get the side effects without any of the benefit.

If you have been offered treatment that aims to cure the cancer, deciding whether to accept it may not be difficult. However, if a cure is not possible and the purpose of treatment is to control the cancer for a period of time, it may be more difficult to decide whether to go ahead.

Making decisions about treatment in these circumstances is always difficult, and you may need to discuss in detail with your doctor whether you wish to have treatment. If you choose not to have it, you can still be given supportive (palliative) care, with medicines to control any symptoms.

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.

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.

Tips for talking to your doctor

Find out how to get the most out of your appointments with a GP or doctor.

About our cancer information videos

Tips for talking to your doctor

Find out how to get the most out of your appointments with a GP or doctor.

About our cancer information videos

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 decision

It is important to remember that the decision you make is the right one for you at the time.

Aims and side effects of treatment

Treatments can have different aims depending on your situation. Your healthcare team will explain the possible side effects of treatment.