How treatment is planned

Your treatment will be planned by a team of specialists. They will meet to discuss and agree on the plan of treatment they feel is best for you.

This multidisciplinary team normally includes:

  • one or more haematologists – doctors who specialise in diagnosing and treating blood cancers and disorders
  • specialist nurses, who give information and support
  • pathologists, who advise on the type and extent of the leukaemia as well as any chromosome changes
  • radiologists, who specialise in understanding scans and x-rays
  • pharmacists who specialise in chemotherapy drugs.

The team may also include other healthcare staff, such as social workers, dietitians, counsellors and physiotherapists.

When planning your treatment, the team will consider a number of factors, including:

  • the type of ALL you have
  • any chromosome changes in the leukaemia cells
  • your age and general health.

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 benefits 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. Most leukaemia 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.

I was told that treatment needed to commence that day. I asked if I could start the treatment the next day to give me time to tell my family.


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 Who will be involved in my treatment decision?

Getting a second opinion

Treatment is based on national guidelines, but some people may want a second opinion from another specialist.

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.