LEARN ABOUT CANCER TREATMENTS

Be involved in treatment decisions

Find your voice and be empowered by partnering with your doctor

Building a cancer care plan you feel comfortable with is a journey of decisions you make with your doctor ⎯ and your voice matters. You’ll have better conversations if you explore more about the different aspects of managing cancer.

Step 1: Know where you’re starting

Your doctor may request additional tests and exams after your diagnosis. You’ll need to know if your cancer is in its earlier or later stages to better prepare for discussions about how and when you might move forward with any treatments.

Early-stage cancer may not have spread to other areas of the body. Keep in mind that different cancers have their own staging categories, so letters and numbers don’t necessarily mean the same thing between different cancer types.

Late-stage cancer may already have spread to nearby lymph nodes, or other parts of the body.

Most often, cancers are staged with a Roman numeral from I (1) to IV (4). Stage I cancers are less advanced, while higher stage cancers may have spread to other areas.

Find out more about your cancer type here.

After you know if your cancer is in its earlier or later stages, you can begin asking the right questions and discussing the best approach for you.

Step 2: Investigate the possibilities

Being actively involved in your cancer care decisions means partnering with your doctor and exploring a variety of choices. Every patient and cancer type are unique, so keep this in mind when asking questions.

When considering the multiple steps in your journey, your doctor might suggest several different options.

A combination of therapies might be considered

For instance, a common main/primary treatment may be to remove as much of the cancer as possible with surgery. Remember, surgery may not be appropriate for everyone.

Your doctor might also recommend other things you can do before or after surgery to help get better results. Talk to your doctor and participate in the decision-making process to create the best path forward for you.

Explore common cancer treatments

Again, each patient is different, and no single approach is appropriate for everyone. Continue to ask questions and share in determining the best course of action for you.

Example questions to ask your doctor

  • Is surgery the right first choice for a patient like me?
  • Should I be considering other treatments?
  • Does the order of these other treatments matter?
        
Is surgery the right first choice for a patient like me?
Should I be considering other treatments?
Does the order of these other treatments matter?    

Step 3: Plan for your future

Even after your care plan is in motion and you move forward with treatments, there’s still more decision-making that is vital to your future.  

Be sure to ask your oncology care team about a variety of additional resources you can access to help you through the cancer journey.

Living with uncertainty

From Harvard Health Publishing

A cancer diagnosis may make you feel less sure of your overall health and well-being. Here’s help dealing with that uncertainty.

 read

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