Making treatment decisions

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. It can be difficult to decide on the type of treatment to have. Ask your specialist to explain all the options and take as much time as you can before making a decision.

You have the right to accept or refuse any treatment you are offered. For example, some people with advanced cancer choose treatment that has significant side effects even if it gives only a small benefit for a short period of time. Others decide to focus their treatment on quality of life. Becoming informed about your options can help you and your specialist jointly decide on a treatment plan that is right for you.

If you’re having trouble deciding on the best cancer treatment pathway, listen to our podcast Making Treatment Decisions.

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Gathering information

Making sure you understand enough about the disease, the available treatments, possible side effects and any extra costs can help you weigh up the options and make a well-informed decision. You may feel that everything is happening so fast that you don’t have time to think things through. You have the right to delay your decision until you feel you have had enough time to consider all your options. Check with your specialist how soon treatment should begin – often it won’t affect the success of the treatment to wait a while.

It is a good idea to have a family member or friend go with you to specialist appointments to join in the discussion, write notes, ask questions or simply listen. If you are confused or want to check anything, it is important to ask your specialist questions. Try to take a list of questions to the appointment.

You might like to ask if you can record the consultation – some treatment centres provide recording equipment, or you might have to take your own (many mobile phones have a recording function).

Decision-making steps

Each person’s situation is different – not everyone with the same type of cancer will make the same decisions about treatment. It may help to:

  • weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment, and whether it will help you meet your treatment goals
  • ask if other treatments are an option (if only one type of treatment is recommended)
  • consider how side effects might affect you, especially if they will have an impact on your lifestyle, sexuality, fertility, or ability to work; if you have a partner, it may help to discuss any side effects with them
  • find out more about the treatment choices offered to you by speaking to your specialist, cancer care coordinator or Cancer Council 13 11 20; getting a second opinion; contacting cancer support groups; and talking to family, friends or people who have had the same cancer
  • share your concerns with your doctor or the treating hospital if you’re not happy with the information you are given or how it is given (see Health care complaints for more information).

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on cancer care and your rights

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

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To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
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Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
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Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in June 2019
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Support services

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Cancer information

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads

Dealing with the diagnosis
Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

Cancer, work and you
Learn how cancer and its treatment can affect your work life, and how to manage this