Making treatment decisions

Sometimes it is difficult to decide on the type of treatment to have for cancer-related pain. You may feel that there is a lot of information to think about, and you may be unsure about the best form of pain management. Ask your treatment team to explain the options, and take as much time as you can before making a decision.

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Know your options

Understanding what causes the pain, the suggested treatments, possible side effects and any extra costs can help you weigh up the options and make a well-informed decision. Even if you don’t want to take up an option immediately, you may be able to later on. Discuss your level of pain with your doctor and find out what kind of impact the treatments could have on the pain.


Record the details

When your doctor talks with you about your treatment options, you may not remember everything you are told. Taking notes or recording the discussion may help. It is a good idea to have a family member or friend go with you to appointments to join in the discussion, write notes or simply listen.


Ask questions

Before an appointment, it may help to write down your questions – see Questions for your doctor for some suggestions. Bringing your pain diary and your answers to these questions will also help your health care team understand how you’re feeling. If your doctors use medical terms you don’t understand, it’s okay to ask for a simpler explanation. You can also check this glossary.


It’s your decision

Adults have the right to accept or refuse any treatment that they are offered. If you are offered a choice of treatments, consider how severe your pain is compared with the side effects of the medicine or treatment. Consider the impact of the treatment on your quality of life. You may want to discuss your decision with the treatment team, GP, family and friends.

For more on this, see Cancer care and your rights.


Make a pain management plan

Once you know your treatment options, talk with your treatment team about making a pain management plan. This is a written document setting out your prescribed therapies, possible side effects, and ways to manage them. It should also include advice about when and who to call if you have problems. Make sure you have a copy of the plan to take home with you and to show to all your health care providers.

The Managing cancer pain: planning for success booklet includes a pain management plan template and other self-management resources. 


Joining a clinical trial

Your doctor or nurse may suggest that you take part in a clinical trial. Doctors run clinical trials to test new or modified treatments and ways of managing pain to see if they are better than current methods. For example, if you join a randomised trial for a new treatment, you will be chosen at random to receive either the best existing treatment or the modified new treatment. Over the years, trials have improved treatments for pain and led to better outcomes for people diagnosed with cancer.

You may find it helpful to talk to your specialist, clinical trials nurse or GP, or to get a second opinion. If you decide to take part in a clinical trial, you can withdraw at any time.

For more on this, visit australiancancertrials.gov.au, or see Clinical trials and research.


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Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
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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.
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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 http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
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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 September 2018
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Support services

Coping with cancer?
Speak to a health professional or to someone who has been there, or find a support group or forum

Work and cancer
Information for employees, employers and workplaces dealing with cancer

Cancer information

Making cancer treatment decisions
Decision-making steps, consent and second opinions

Deciding on specialist care
How to find and choose a surgeon, oncologist or other specialist

 

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