A surgeon needs your agreement (consent) before performing any medical treatment. Adults can give their consent – or refuse it – if they have capacity. Capacity means they can understand and remember the information about the proposed choices, make decisions based on this information, and communicate their 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 to treatment.
Informed financial consent is an important part of decision-making if you are having treatment in the private sector. Your doctors must talk to you about likely out-of-pocket costs before treatment starts. If you are concerned about the cost of surgery, you may want to get a second opinion from another specialist or seek treatment as a public patient.
For more on this, see Cancer care and your rights.
Prof Andrew Spillane, Surgical Oncologist, Melanoma Institute of Australia, and Professor of Surgical Oncology, The University of Sydney Northern Clinical School, NSW; Lynne Hendrick, Consumer; Judy Holland, Physiotherapist, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Kara Hutchinson, Cancer Nurse Coordinator, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, VIC; A/Prof Declan Murphy, Urologist and Director of Genitourinary Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Prof Stephan Schug, Director of Pain Medicine, Royal Perth Hospital, and Chair of Anaesthesiology and Pain Medicine, The University of Western Australia Medical School, WA; Dr Emma Secomb, Specialist Surgeon, Hinterland Surgical Centre, QLD. We would like to thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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