Living with cancer

Deciding on treatment

There are several different types of treatment for cancer and you may find you are offered a combination of therapies, rather just one specific treatment option.

Treatments vary from person to person and will depend on a number of factors including the type of cancer, the size of the cancer and whether or not the cancer has spread (this is often called the 'stage' of cancer). Your general health and well-being are also considered.

Your treatment and care will be planned by members of your specialist cancer team and multidisciplinary team (MDT) who work together to decide what the best options are for your particular case.

Sometimes doctors may recommend no treatment at all. This can be for various reasons and your doctor should explain to you clearly why he or she is suggesting this approach.

Key points

  • Do not be afraid to ask questions or more information before you make a decision about treatment. People often need time to take in what they have been told.
  • Specialists know that some people with cancer may ask for a second opinion and they should not usually mind you asking for this.
  • If you are not sure what your doctor is suggesting, it can help to talk over treatment options again with your cancer specialist nurse. You may find it helpful to talk to another patient who has gone through similar treatment. If you are still not sure you can talk to your GP or your hospital consultant about getting a second opinion.
  • You can ask your GP to refer you to a specialist for a second opinion, or you can ask your current consultant to do a ‘consultant to consultant’ referral. However, if you get a second opinion, this does not necessarily mean the new consultant will take over your care.

If you have been affected by cancer in some way and would like to talk to someone about what you have read or need help finding information - you are welcome to drop into any Maggie’s Centre or to visit Maggie’s Online Centre and talk with a cancer support specialist.