Making treatment decisions

Sometimes it’s difficult to decide on whether to have treatment for advanced cancer. Some people choose treatment even if it offers only a small benefit for a short period of time. Others want to make sure the expected benefits outweigh the side effects so that they have the best quality of life.

Some people decide not to have active treatment for the cancer, but to treat symptoms to reduce pain and discomfort. You may want to consider what quality of life means to you.

Perhaps you would choose chemotherapy if it meant you could have two good weeks each month. Or you might value being able to spend as much time as possible with family and friends, without the disruption of treatment.

Understanding the disease, available treatments and possible side effects can help you weigh up the pros and cons of different treatments and make a well-informed decision that’s based on your personal values. You can also discuss the options with your family and friends or with your doctor, or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

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Talking about future care

Discussing the kind of care you might want in the future can be difficult. However, talking to your family about this can help them if you are so sick that you can’t make decisions, and they need to make decisions about your health care for you.

Palliative Care Australia has developed a discussion starter that can help you reflect on your preferences for care and talk about them to your family. See Dying to talk for more.


This information was last reviewed in December 2016
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