Before you start treatment

Different treatments are used for different types of cancer. Your doctors will choose the treatment that is best for the type of cancer you have. You may have more than one type of treatment.

Young person talking to doctor

Planning your treatment

Your doctors will usually want to start your treatment as soon as possible. They will put together a plan to treat the cancer. You will meet different members of the healthcare team. This includes the consultant and other hospital doctors, nurses and other people who will be involved in your care. You may be given a keyworker – this is often a nurse who will keep in touch with you to make sure you have all the information and support you need.

We have more information about going into hospital including the different members of the healthcare team.

Your doctors will talk to you (and maybe your parents or carers) about your illness and the treatment plan. There may be times when you prefer to talk to the medical staff on your own. You can ask for this if you would like.

Making decisions

When you are diagnosed with cancer, you may feel that you have lost control. You are seeing lots of doctors, nurses and specialists, and everyone seems to be telling you what to do.Your cancer doctor or nurse may give you lots of information about cancer and treatments, and you may have decisions to make. It is important that you get all the facts and support you need to make these decisions.
It will help to know:

  • what the treatment is
  • how long it may last
  • what the side effects might be
  • what effect is it going to have on your life

You should also have plenty of time to ask questions and to think about what you want to do. Treatment is different for everybody, and you won’t know exactly what it is going to feel like until you start. But it will help to understand as much as you can. You may be able to chat to someone who has had similar treatment. Ask the hospital staff if you would like to do this.

If you want to look online for information about treatment, make sure you visit websites that you can trust. We have information about the different types of treatment. If you aren’t sure about having a particular type of treatment, you can ask for more time to think about it. Talk to your doctor or a nurse about anything you are worried about.

The doctors can’t give you any treatment until you have agreed to have it. This is called giving consent. If you are aged under 16, you may need the written consent of your parent or guardian. If you are aged over 16, you can sign the consent form yourself.

Getting a second opinion

If you, or your parents or guardians, feel it would be helpful, you can ask for the opinion of another specialist. This is known as getting a second opinion. Either your GP or consultant should be willing to refer you to another specialist. However, getting a second opinion may delay the start of your treatment. So you, your doctor and your parents or guardians need to be sure that it will be helpful.

Based on original content by Macmillan Cancer Support