Decisions about treatment

If you want to be involved in decisions about your treatment, you’ll need to know which treatments might be right for you and what they might mean.

It may be helpful to think about what would influence your decision to have a treatment. For example, an improved quality of life by not having to go for a particular treatment and experience its side effects may be more important to you than the possible benefits of that treatment.

When your specialist is talking with you about your treatment options, it’s a good idea to have a list of questions ready that may help you make your decision.

You may want to take time to discuss things with your family, friends or different members of your specialist team. You may also want to bring a family member or friend to your hospital appointments.

Some people consider asking for a second opinion. You can ask your specialist team or GP to refer you to another specialist who may be in the same hospital or elsewhere. The second opinion may not be different from the first one and sometimes the time taken to get a second opinion may delay your treatment slightly. Your specialist will be able to discuss any impact this might have.

You may decide that you don’t want to be involved in making decisions about your treatment, or that you’re happy for your specialist team to guide you. There shouldn’t be any pressure on you to be involved if you don’t want to be. However, your team will need to gain your consent for treatment. This will involve discussing the planned treatments with you so that you understand the aim of the treatment and any potential side effects.

Thinking about stopping cancer treatment

Many people reach a point when they decide not to have any more cancer treatment. This is often because the side effects from treatment are significantly reducing their quality of life, and they prefer to have supportive care and symptom control only.

This is never an easy decision to make. Sometimes people feel under pressure to have any treatment offered. Family and friends may also find it hard to accept their loved one has stopped having cancer treatment.

It’s a very personal decision, so if you don’t want to carry on with treatment, try not to feel guilty about something that you feel is the right step for you. Whatever you decide it shouldn’t make any difference to the care and support available to you.

Last reviewed: December 2015
Next planned review begins 2017

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Please note that we cannot respond to comments. If you have any questions about breast cancer please contact the Helpline on 0808 800 6000.