Finding out your treatment options

You and your doctor will work together to make decisions about your treatment. Before you decide they will explain the aims of treatment and its risks and side effects. They will also tell you about other treatments that are available and what may happen if you decide not to have treatment.

It may be fairly straightforward to choose to have a treatment if there is a good chance of it curing or controlling the lymphoma. But if you’re offered a choice between two treatments or if a treatment has a lower chance of working, it can be more difficult.

Making a list of questions to take with you can help you focus on what’s most important to you. There’s a lot to take in and you may need to ask for things to be explained more than once. This is very common and your doctor won’t mind.

You’re free to choose whether or not to accept treatment. If you choose not to have treatment, you can still be given supportive care to help control any symptoms.

Treatment decisions for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Deciding on the treatments that are right for you is usually a decision you make in partnership with your cancer doctor. Although your doctor is an expert in the most effective treatments you know the best about your situation, your preferences and beliefs.

If you are offered treatment that has a good chance of curing your lymphoma or putting it into remission, deciding whether or not to accept the treatment may not be difficult. However, if the treatment has a smaller chance of working, it may be more difficult to decide whether or not to go ahead. If you choose not to have treatment, you can still be given supportive care to help control any symptoms.

If you are offered a choice of treatments make sure you have enough information about the different options, what’s involved, and the side effects you might get, so you can choose the treatment that’s right for you. Remember to ask questions about anything you don’t understand or feel worried about.

We have more information on finding out your treatment options.

Talking about your treatment options

Your lymphoma specialist will talk to you about your treatment options. You might find it useful to take along a list of questions. It’s also a good idea to have a family member or friend with you when you meet the specialist. They can help you remember what was said and talk it over with you afterwards.

Your doctor will explain what your treatment involves and what its main aims are. This may be to try to cure the NHL, to control it for as long as possible or to relieve symptoms. They will also explain the side effects of treatment. People often worry about these, but side effects can often be controlled or managed.

Doctors are looking at newer treatments and different ways of giving existing treatments. Your specialist may talk to you about taking part in a research trial).

Information about your treatment should include:

  • its benefits and disadvantages (risks and side effects)
  • other treatments that may be available
  • what is likely to happen without treatment.

If there’s anything you don’t understand, ask your doctor or nurse to explain it again. It can be hard to take things in when you’re feeling anxious, and treatments are often complicated.

You may have more than one meeting with your doctor about your treatment plan.

Sometimes your doctor may ask you to make some treatment choices or decisions. If you feel worried about any part of your treatment plan, it’s important to discuss this with your doctors. This will help them to take your preferences into account.

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