Making a Cancer Treatment Decision That Is Right For You
Making a decision about cancer treatment can be an overwhelming experience for many people. Important decisions need to be made about treatment for new or recurrent cancer as well as ending treatment. Sometimes it is hard to know what questions to ask the doctor. One proven strategy for getting the most out of your visit is to be as prepared as possible. Having a written list of questions can help you feel more organized and comfortable in asking the questions you need to have answered as you work together with your doctor to make a decision about which treatment is right for you.
As you look at all the treatment options with your doctor and your family, you will need to determine what you can realistically expect from treatment. Talk with your doctor to better understand your type and stage of cancer as well as the best goal of treatment for you. A goal of treatment may be cure, slowing or controlling tumor growth, or extending your life while maintaining quality of life. Some cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, can have difficult side effects. It's important for you to weigh the benefits and the challenges, and make a decision that is best for you.
Open to Options®
The Cancer Support Community has a decision support counseling program called Open to Options® that can help you prepare for an appointment in which you will be making a treatment decision. The program is available in English or Spanish for people with any stage of cancer.
The service can help you get the most out of your doctor’s visit and help you talk more openly with your health care team about the things that really matter to you in your cancer treatment. In a brief one-hour session, an Open to Options® Specialist can help you develop a personal list of questions and concerns that will help you and your doctor explore your situation and develop the best treatment option for you.
Tips for Treatment Decision-Making
- Learn about your cancer and treatment options. Try and understand as much as you can about your diagnosis and the possible treatments.
- Bring someone else along. Bring a family member or friend along to listen along with you, take notes and keep track of the options.
- Talk about your decision with someone you trust. It can be helpful to talk through your ideas and concerns with family, friends, clergy or health professional. Some people find that support groups are a useful place to gather information and suggestions from others.
- Consult guidelines or other decision-making tools. The American Society of Clinical Oncology and other cancer organizations publish guidelines and treatment decision-making tools to help doctors and patients understand various treatment. (Always use treatment guidelines and other tools with the help and interpretation of your doctor.)
Find a Program Near You
Open to Options® is available through our Cancer Support Community affiliates. If you are unable to find a program near you, call our Toll-Free Cancer Support Helpline, 1-888-793-9355, to speak to a helpline counselor about the program.
CSC Arizona 602-712-1006
Gilda’s Club Desert Cities 760-770-5678
CSC Pasadena 626-796-1083
CSC Redondo Beach 310-376-3550
CSC San Francisco Bay Area 925-933-0107
CSC Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara 805-379-4777
CSC Santa Monica 310-314-2555
CSC Delaware 302-995-2850
Gilda’s Club South Florida 954-763-6776
CSC Greater Miami 305-668-5900
CSC at Orlando Health 321-843-8571
CSC Atlanta 404-843-1880
Gilda’s Club Chicago 312-464-9900
Gilda’s Club Quad Cities (Davenport, IA) 563-326-7504
Gilda’s Club Louisville 502-583-0075
Gilda’s Club Detroit 248-577-0800
Gilda's Club Grand Rapids 616-453-8300
CSC Greater Ann Arbor 734-975-2500
CSC Central New Jersey (Bedminster, NJ) 908-658-5400
Gilda’s Club New York City 212-647-9700
CSC NORTH TEXAS 214-345-8230
Gilda’s Club Madison 608-828-8880
About Open to Options®
To help people with cancer prioritize their questions and concerns, the Cancer Support Community 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 in order 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 in Spanish for people at any stage of cancer by calling the Cancer Support Helpline at 1-888-793-9355 or visiting select CSC affiliate locations. Open to Options appointments on average last between 45-60 minutes.
Healthcare professionals interested in enrolling patients in Open to Options can call our Toll-Free Cancer Support Helpline (1-888-793-9355), or contact Sara Goldberger, Senior Director, Program at (646) 600-7565.
Open to Options is supported by organizations, including the Amgen Foundation.