Cancer care and your rights
This information is for people starting their journey through the health care system after a cancer diagnosis. Knowing what you can reasonably expect of the health care system and your treatment team can help you work in partnership with your health care providers and take an active role in your care.
Patients have certain rights and responsibilities when accessing health care in Australia. Knowing your health care rights and responsibilities can help you get the best possible outcomes.
Health care systems are complex and sometimes challenging to understand, particularly when you are dealing with the physical, emotional and financial impacts of cancer.
Doctors, nurses and other health professionals offer a range of services to assist you, your family and carers.
Whether you have just been diagnosed with cancer or have cancer that has spread or come back, you will have to make a number of decisions about your treatment.
Health professionals will collect a lot of information about you, your health and the treatment you receive. When you are receiving health care, you have a right to privacy and confidentiality.
You have the right to give feedback or make a complaint about your health care, and to receive a prompt response.
Learn about the insurance, financial and workplace issues that may be relevant to people with cancer.
Knowing your rights as a carer can help you deal with the treatment team, and make medical and financial decisions.
Choosing a specialist
- Have you treated a lot of people with this type of cancer?
- Do you practise in the public or private system, or both?
- Do you specialise in treating this type of cancer? If not, could you recommend someone who does?
- Do you work in a multidisciplinary team? Who else is in the team?
- I’m thinking of getting a second opinion. Can you recommend anyone?
Treatment choice, side effects and informed consent
- What are my treatment options? What is the aim of each treatment?
- What treatment do you recommend? What is the expected outcome?
- Are there other treatments that you aren’t recommending? Why?
- What should I expect if I don’t have treatment?
- How long will treatment take? Will I have to stay in hospital?
- If this particular treatment does not work, are there other options?
- What is the likely success rate of any surgery or treatment?
- What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
- What is the chance that these complications or side effects will occur?
- What will be done to prevent these side effects?
- Are the side effects immediate, temporary or long-lasting?
- What follow-up care can I expect after treatment?
- Will I need to take medicines long-term after treatment?
- What is advance care planning? Who can help me with this?
Financial impacts and complaints
- Are there any out-of-pocket costs not covered by Medicare or my private health cover?
- Can the cost be reduced if I can’t afford it?
- Will I be able to work while having treatment?
- Who can I talk to if I have concerns about my care?