Making treatment decisions
Sometimes it is difficult to decide on the type of treatment to have. You may feel that everything is happening too fast. Discuss with your doctor how soon your treatment should start, and take as much time as you can before making a decision.
Understanding the disease, the 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 may also want to discuss the options with your doctor, complementary therapist, friends and family.
You have the right to accept or refuse any treatment offered. Some people with more advanced cancer choose treatment even if it offers only a small benefit for a short period of time. Others want to make sure the benefits outweigh the side effects so they have the best possible quality of life.
Deciding whether to use complementary therapies and which ones to choose is a similar process to deciding on a course of conventional treatment. Some people with cancer may feel pressure from friends and family to use complementary therapies, and may feel guilty if the therapy they choose doesn’t offer any benefit.
Some people will consider complementary therapies at the time of their diagnosis; others will not think about using them until later, perhaps as part of their recovery or supportive care. Cancer Council warns against delaying or replacing conventional treatment or medicine with a complementary or alternative therapy.
Learn more about:
- Choosing a complementary therapy
- Finding a complementary therapist
- Can I help myself or should I see a professional?
- Talking with others and getting a second opinion
- The costs of complementary therapy
- Taking part in a clinical trial
Weigh up the different types of treatments
- Think about what you expect to gain from using complementary therapies.
- Consider the possible side effects and safety issues of complementary therapies, how these might affect you, and how they may interact with your conventional treatments.
- Consider whether you prefer to use complementary therapies with strong scientific evidence, or whether anecdotal evidence is enough for you.
- Ask about the costs of treatments.
Find out more about different therapies
- Gather information and consider whether it’s accurate, up to date, and comes from a reliable source.
- Discuss the issue with your family and friends.
- Talk to other people who have tried these treatments, for example, at a support group or through Cancer Council Online Community.
- Contact a natural therapy association to find practitioners in your area or to check their qualifications and experience.
- Borrow books from a library or read about therapies on recommended websites.
Discuss your concerns
- Talk to your practitioner or doctor about the therapies you would like to try, and whether there are any potential interactions or side effects when they are used with your conventional treatments.
- Seek a second opinion if you are not happy with the information you are given.
Suzanne Grant, Senior Acupuncturist, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; A/Prof Craig Hassed, Senior Lecturer, Department of General Practice, Monash University, VIC; Mara Lidums, Consumer; Tanya McMillan, Consumer; Simone Noelker, Physiotherapist and Wellness Centre Manager, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Byeongsang Oh, Acupuncturist, University of Sydney and Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, NSW; Sue Suchy, Consumer; Marie Veale, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Queensland, QLD; Prof Anne Williams, Nursing Research Consultant, Centre for Nursing Research, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, and Chair, Health Research, School of Health Professions, Murdoch University, WA.
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