Breakthroughs in cancer research are leading to more personalized, or targeted, treatments for patients. Yet with these scientific advances, patients face more options and a new level of complexity in choosing a treatment that is right for their situation. In a landmark report, The Institute of Medicine underscores the importance that people with cancer receive support and guidance to make this significant decision under such stressful conditions.
To help people with cancer prioritize their questions and concerns, the Cancer Support Community (CSC) provides free, national access to professional counselors through its Open to Options program. Open to Options counselors are trained to help those with cancer organize their questions and communicate their concerns and goals to their healthcare provider, to mutually decide on a plan that best suits their individual desires and needs. The personalized list of prioritized questions and concerns is typed up and taken to the upcoming doctor’s appointment or sent to the doctor directly.
Open to Options is available in English and Spanish for people in any stage of cancer by calling the CSC Cancer Support Helpline at 1-888-793-9355 or visiting select CSC affiliate locations. The program was recently expanded to reach more people. Open to Options appointments on average last between 45-60 minutes.
A pilot program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and developed by CSC, the Education Network to Advance Cancer Clinical Trials (ENACCT) and Dr. Jeff Belkora (UCSF) found that 9 out of 10 patients felt the list of questions, concerns and expectations contributed to a more productive appointment with their doctor and that the oncologist answered most of their questions. Patients also felt:
- Less anxious about their doctor appointment
- Felt their appointment went more smoothly
- Felt better about the care decision made
The CSC is a non-profit organization committed to ensuring that everyone touched by cancer is empowered by knowledge, strengthened by action and sustained by community. Open to Options is supported by organizations, including the Amgen Foundation.
In addition to the Toll-Free Cancer Support Helpline (1-888-793-9355)
, Open to Options is also available through these Cancer Support Community affiliates. Find a CSC near you and call today for an appointment!
Senior Director, Program
Adler, Nancy E., and Ann E.K. Page, eds. “Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs.” (2007): 163.