How treatment is planned

In most hospitals, a team of specialists will talk to you about the treatment they feel is best for your situation. This multidisciplinary team (MDT) will include:

  • a dermatologist (skin disease specialist)
  • a general surgeon
  • a plastic surgeon
  • a medical oncologist (chemotherapy specialist)
  • a clinical oncologist (radiotherapy and chemotherapy specialist)
  • a skin cancer nurse specialist
  • radiologists, who analyse x-rays and scans
  • pathologists, who advise on the type and extent of the cancer.

The specialists will talk to you about your treatment options, and about what to expect. They will answer any questions you have. You may be asked if you would like to take part in a clinical trial.

Discussing your treatment

If you have any questions about your treatment, ask your doctor or nurse to explain things to you. It often helps to make a list of questions and to take a relative or close friend with you. They can remind you of questions you want to ask and help you remember what was said.

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.

Back to Who will be involved in my treatment decision?

Getting a second opinion

Your treatment will be planned using national guidelines, but you may still want another medical opinion.

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.