A surgeon needs your agreement (consent) before performing any medical treatment. Adults can give their consent – or refuse it – if they have capacity (ability to make decisions). This means you can understand and remember information about the proposed choices; understand the possible outcomes of your decision; and communicate your decision.
Sometimes consent is not needed, such as in a medical emergency. However, if your surgery is planned, your surgeon will discuss why you need the surgery and its benefits; other treatment options; how they will perform the surgery; and possible side effects, risks and complications.
You will be asked to sign a document indicating that you understand this information and agree to treatment. This is known as giving informed consent. Here are some questions you may want to ask before giving your informed consent for surgery.
For more on this, see Cancer care and your rights.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and University of Sydney, NSW; Chanelle Curnuck, Dietitian – Dietetics and Nutrition, Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group, WA; Department of Anaesthetics, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Medicine, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Jessica Feeney, Nurse Unit Manager, Breast, Endocrine and Gynaecology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; A/Prof Richard Gallagher, Head and Neck Surgeon, Director of Cancer Services and Head and Neck Cancer Services, St Vincent’s Health Network, NSW; John Leung, Consumer; Rohan Miegel, Senior Physiotherapist – Cancer Care, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; A/Prof Nicholas O’Rourke, University of Queensland and Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital, QLD; Lucy Pollerd, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Suzanne Ryan, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Department of General Surgery, Sunshine Coast University Hospital, QLD; Rebecca Yeoh, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland.
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