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Your Treatment and Your Role in Treatment Decisions

Choosing a treatment plan is a significant step in your cancer journey. Your values and wishes are paramount in the treatment decision-making process. The decisions about your treatment will be made jointly with you, your doctor, and your care team.

Treatment Plan

Your doctor and care team will develop a treatment plan together with you. They will discuss with you what is important to you based on your values and desires, and outline expected outcomes of treatment choices that may be available to you. Having an open and frank conversation is key to ensuring that your treatment plan meets your goals as the patient. These conversations and the choices you make can be difficult, but your team is here to give you information, help you work through those decisions, and listen to the reasons you may or may not want to have chemotherapy or other treatments.

The conversation will include the benefits and disadvantages of different treatment options, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, hormonal therapy, radiation, and surgery. Your care team will also explain:

  • How the treatment fights your cancer and could relieve your symptoms caused by cancer
  • Potential side effects or complications
  • How treatments might affect your daily quality of life
  • The likelihood of the treatment helping you live longer or effectively making you cancer-free

Your care team will develop a treatment plan based on your particular cancer, values, and desires. Moving forward with any treatment option is completely up to you. After you and your team agree on a treatment plan, you will receive a written copy of the plan, along with more information about the treatment itself. Your team will also explain next steps.

Understanding Your Treatment and Test Results

We want to ensure that you fully understand your treatment plan, as well as results from blood tests, scans, or other diagnostic tests. Your team will share the results of tests that are given during treatment to see what impact the treatment is having on your cancer. Our goal is to speak to you in language that is clear and understandable, not using technical jargon and “medical speak.” If you don’t understand or a term is unfamiliar to you, ask your team to clarify and explain it another way.

With chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy, you may also be prescribed other medications. Your team will explain why those medications are necessary and how they help in your treatment, as well as potential side effects.

Maintaining Health During Treatment

It is important to practice healthy habits during treatment. It will help keep your energy up and could stave off some side effects.
  • Eating properly is key. Your treatment may affect your appetite or may dictate changes in your diet. Your care team can give you guidance on what is best for your specific treatment plan and may recommend nutritional counseling.
  • Exercise is beneficial. Some level of exercise can assist in maintaining your energy. Talk with your care team about what types and amounts of exercise you need.
  • Discuss other health concerns. Talk with your care team about other health concerns you have and maintaining your regular health checkups, such as dentist appointments, flu shots, and other health screenings.

Questions? Just ask.

Your care team’s goal is to make sure that you and your caregivers understand not only your treatment and test results, but everything that may affect your care. Don’t be shy about asking questions, even in between appointments. We’re happy to answer them.