Thursday, November 6, 2008

Making The Right Decisions for Your Treatment

The number of treatment choices you will have depend on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer and other individual factors such as your age, other health factors and personal needs.


Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to. Make sure you understand all your options and the reasons for your personal treatment plan.

A cancer diagnosis almost always makes people feel they must get treatment as soon as possible or they will be more likely to die. You must believe and trust that you have the necessary time to consider all the options available to you so that you can make well informed decisions about your care and treatment plan.

Cancer treatment often means that you will have more than one health care provider. You may have a team of doctors and nurses, as well as other people involved in your care. Although you may get information from several sources, it is a good idea to choose one provider to be the person you turn to with your questions and concerns. This provider may or may not be the one you see most often but it must be the one you feel most comfortable talking to. Only you can decide and choose which provider will be your main source of information.

You should feel at ease with your primary care provider or team leader. Developing a good relationship with your provider is worth the effort. This means taking the time to ask your questions and making your concerns known. Likewise, your provider must take the time to answer your questions and listen to your concerns. If you and your provider feel the same way about sharing information you will probably have a good relationship.

Before starting treatment, you might want a second opinion about both your diagnosis and treatment plan. Some insurance companies require a second opinion; others may cover a second opinion if you or your doctor request it. There are a number of ways to find a doctor for a second opinion.

(1) Your doctor may refer you or you may ask for a referral to one or more specialists.

(2) At cancer centers, several specialists often work together as a team. The team may include a surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, speech pathologist, nutritionist, social workers and psychologists.

In some cancer centers, hospital clinics and doctors offices, you may be able to see several specialists on the same day.

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