Making a decision

It can be difficult to make a decision about which cancer treatment to choose. It can help to think about how you have made big decisions in the past. Make sure that you have all the information you need to make the decision. Ask more questions if you need more information about each option.

You might find it helpful to talk to your family and friends. It may also help to write a list of the benefits and disadvantages of the treatment options. You could think about:

  • what the aim of the treatment is
  • possible side effects
  • the impact the treatment is likely to have on your family and social life.

If you are unable to make a decision, talk to your healthcare team again. You will be the one having treatment, so you need to be happy with your choice. There is no right or wrong decision. People have different priorities, concerns and circumstances that will mean they make different choices.

Making your decision about treatment

It can be difficult to make a decision about something very important. You may feel overwhelmed by all the information you have been given. Or you may feel under pressure to do what you think your relatives and friends want.

It may help to think about how you approached big decisions in the past. Are you guided by your first impressions and instincts? Or do you usually need to think things through for a long time? Do you make a decision alone or after discussing it with other people?

When you have put together all the information you have, you may find it helpful to put it aside and try not to think about it for a few days. If you can, do something different to distract you from making the decision. Taking a short break may help you look at all the information with a fresh approach. You may find it helps to talk through your options with your family or friends. If you need to decide fairly quickly, it may help to get a good night’s sleep and then make the decision the next day.

It is your decision

It is important to do what is right for you and not what you think other people want you to do. It is easy to be influenced by the opinions of others, especially when they are very close to you. But you are the one who will be having the treatment, and you need to be sure that you have made the right decision for you at the time.

If your relatives or friends think you are making the wrong decision, explain your reasons to them. They may be happy to accept your decision once they know your reasons, but they may also have important points that you have not considered.

Do not agree to anything until you are ready, and make yourself ready by whatever means you need. It might be counselling, doing research or talking to friends.

Louise


Help with making a decision

You could write a list of the benefits and disadvantages of the treatment you have been offered.

Try to think about:

  • the aim of the treatment
  • how successful the treatment is likely to be
  • the possible side effects
  • how often you will need to go to the hospital and for how long
  • the effects of the treatment on your family and social life
  • the effects on your work and finances.

These are just examples. It is important to take enough time to make your decision. This will be hard if doctors want to start treatment soon. But it is important that you have time to think about the information you have and ask more questions if you need to.

Find out all the information you can, ask as many questions as you can, and make the decision that is right for you.

Wendy


If you cannot decide

Some people find it very difficult to make a decision. Some feel that they want their specialist to make the decision for them.

If you are having trouble deciding, talk to your family and friends. They may be able to simplify things for you. You can also make an appointment to see your doctor or specialist nurse to talk to them again. Your healthcare team may suggest a decision aid to guide you through your choices. Your doctor or nurse can talk to you about this.

If you really cannot make a decision, ask your doctor to decide for you after you have talked to them about what you want or do not want.


How will you know if you have made the right choice?

There is no right or wrong decision. People have different priorities, concerns and circumstances that will mean they make different choices.

The most important thing to remember is that the decision you make is the right one for you at the time. No one can say exactly what will happen in the future. It is likely that there will always be some uncertainty.

You may find you change your mind over time. How you feel now may be different from how you felt a few weeks or months ago. You may also feel different in the future.

As your situation changes, your choices may change too. Your healthcare team will support you and will respect the choices you make.

If the cancer comes back after having the treatment you chose, you should not blame yourself. It is possible that the cancer would also have come back if you had chosen another treatment option. Your doctors would not have offered you a choice of a treatment that might not work so well. It is important to remember that you made the right decision at the time for all the right reasons, using the information available to you.

Back to Access to treatment

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.

Before treatment starts

You will see different specialists before treatment starts. They help prepare you for the effects of treatment and give you advice.