Talking to your healthcare team

You will see your specialist doctor after the multidisciplinary team has met. Your doctor might talk to you about:

  • the aims of treatment
  • possible side effects
  • how treatment might affect you.

You can also talk to them about any concerns you may have.

It may be helpful to have someone with you at this appointment. It can also be useful to write any questions you have before you see your doctor. Your healthcare team may give you some written information to take home.

Your doctor may offer you a choice of treatment. Make sure you have enough information to help you decide which treatment to have.

If you have further questions, you can arrange to see someone from your healthcare team again.

Some people may find it difficult to talk to their healthcare team. For example, if they do not understand English very well, or they have hearing difficulties. Tell the hospital staff before your appointment if you think you might need help when talking to your healthcare team.

Talking to your healthcare team

After the multidisciplinary team (MDT) has met, you will see your specialist doctor at an outpatient appointment to discuss your treatment options. They will talk with you about the aims of treatment, possible side effects and how it might affect you. You can also talk to the specialist about your own wishes and concerns. Knowing what is happening and why can make you feel more involved in your care. It can also make it easier to make decisions.

You may find it helpful to have a family member or friend with you for this appointment. It can also be useful to write a list of questions before the appointment. Your healthcare team may give you some written information about the cancer and its treatment. You may find this helpful to look at later. You might want some time to think about what you have discussed before deciding whether to go ahead with treatment.

Sometimes, your doctor will offer you a choice of treatments that are equally effective. If this happens, they will give you time to decide which treatment you would prefer. Make sure you feel you have enough information about all the treatment options to help you make your decision.

If you have any more questions about treatment, you may want to see your specialist again or talk to someone else in the team, such as a clinical nurse specialist. If there is anything you do not understand, ask again. Some people worry that the hospital staff are too busy to answer their questions. But some cancer treatments are complicated and it is important for you to understand what the treatment involves.

Your family and friends may also have questions to ask. Your healthcare team should be able to answer their questions, as long as you are also happy for them to.


If you do not speak English

If you don’t understand or speak English very well, the hospital can arrange an interpreter for you when you meet with your doctor or other members of the healthcare team. 

Interpreters translate everything your doctor says to you and everything you want to say back. You may have to ask in advance for your hospital to arrange an interpreter.

There are also people called advocates who can talk on your behalf and make sure your healthcare team knows about any wishes you have.

The Macmillan Support Line has an interpretation service in over 200 languages. Call free on 0808 808 00 00.

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


If you have hearing or speech difficulties

You may want to bring someone with you to speak on your behalf or sign any conversation you have with your doctor. You can also ask your doctors or nurses to write things down for you. Action on Hearing Loss can give you further information and support.

We have British Sign Language videos that may help you understand and cope with cancer.


If you are partially sighted

You can ask for written information to be provided in large print. Some organisations, including Macmillan, can provide information in Braille or as an audio CD. You can also ask your doctor if it is okay to record their conversations with you.

You can get further information and support from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)


If you have physical or learning disabilities

People with a physical or learning disability may find it harder to have a conversation with their healthcare team. There are people called advocates who can talk on your behalf. They can help make sure your healthcare team knows about any wishes you have. You can read more about NHS advocates on the NHS Choices website.

We have easy read information that uses simple language and pictures. You may also find it helpful to read information on the NHS Choices website.

Back to Who will be involved in my treatment decision?

How treatment is planned

Your treatment will be planned by a team of specialist doctors and other healthcare professionals, called a multidisciplinary team (MDT).

Getting a second opinion

There are many reasons for wanting a second opinion about your treatment. Speak to your specialist or GP.

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.

Clinical negligence

If care given by a healthcare professional falls below an acceptable standard and causes injury or death, you can claim compensation for the harm done.