Treatment planning normally happens during your first appointment at the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario at Kingston General Hospital. During this clinic appointment, your oncologist will talk to you about your treatment options.
You and your cancer care team may decide you need only one type of cancer treatment or a combination of different treatments. Your treatment plan will depend on different factors, such as:
- Your type of cancer and where it is in your body.
- Your general health, your age and any other medical problems.
- If you have had cancer treatment before.
- Your personal values and wishes.
Goal of treatment
The first step in treatment planning is to understand the goal of treatment. The goal of treatment describes the possible and expected outcome of your treatment. You and your oncologist will discuss the goal of your cancer treatment when you talk about your treatment options.
Your treatment goal will be one of the following:
- Cure your cancer by destroying or removing all the cancer in your body. This is known as curative treatment.
- Control your cancer by lessening the amount of cancer in your body or reducing the chances your cancer will come back. This is known as adjuvant treatment.
- Treat the symptoms, like pain, caused by your cancer. This is known as palliative treatment.
- Prevent or slow down the start of cancer in your body. This is known as preventative treatment.
Understanding your treatment options
You will likely have a lot of questions for your cancer care team. This is the time to talk about your concerns. Tell your cancer care team how you are feeling. Let them know your concerns and what affects your decisions, like family, values, work or hobbies.
You should also ask questions or for more explanation about anything you hear. Remember, it’s okay to ask your cancer care team to use everyday language to explain things that are new to you. It is important that you keep asking questions until you feel that you understand.
You should have a clear understanding of your diagnosis and the suggested treatment plan before you make any decisions. You may want to ask some of the following questions before treatment begins:
- What is my diagnosis?
- Do you know if the cancer has spread to other parts of my body?
- What are my treatment options? What treatment do you suggest for me and why?
- What are the expected benefits of each treatment?
- What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment?
- Will I have to change my normal activities, like work, travel or exercise? If yes, for how long?
- Will the treatments affect my normal sexual activity?
- Is infertility a side effect of this cancer treatment? If yes, what are my options for preserving my fertility?
- What can I do to prepare for treatment?
- How often will I have treatments?
- How long will I have treatments?
- Will I have to pay money for treatments?
You can repeat back to your cancer care team in your own words what you heard them say. This will make sure you correctly understand what was said. If you have a family member or friend with you, ask them to write down information from your cancer care team.
You will be given a Patient Binder to help you write down and keep track of information about your cancer care. File or record any new information that was given to you during your visit in your Patient Binder. It helps to keep track of everything in one place. Write down any new or forgotten questions in your Patient Binder to ask at the next visit.
You may wish to talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner after your visit. They can help you balance the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment options presented to you.
Making a decision
It may be possible for you to reach a decision about your treatment options right away, or you may need more time to decide on the best treatment plan for you.
Once you have decided on a treatment plan, you will sign a consent form. This form means that you have given informed consent to go ahead with treatment. Informed consent means that you know the treatment risks, benefits and alternatives, and that you agree to have the treatment. You can change your mind or ask for more information at any time.
Adjusting your treatment plan
Once you have started treatment for cancer, your care team will monitor your health and how your cancer is responding to treatment. You may be asked to undergo tests or procedures to help your care team understand if you are reaching your goal of treatment or if your treatment plan should be adjusted. You can find more information about tests and procedures by using the related resources on the right side of this page.
Your care team may suggest adjusting your treatment plan several times during your cancer treatment. Before every change in your treatment plan begins, your care team will get your informed consent.