NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Part 8: Accepting a treatment plan
Cancer can greatly differ even when people have a tumor
in the same organ. Test results that describe the cancer
are reported in the treatment plan. Such test results
include the cancer site, cell type, and cancer stage. See
Part 2 for the tests used for melanoma skin cancer.
Your treatment team
Cancer care is a team effort. Who is on your team
depends on the treatments you choose. Your treatment
team may include a dermatologist, medical oncologist,
surgeon, radiation oncologist, pathologist, and
dermatopathologist. A dermatologist is a doctor who
is an expert in skin diseases. Medical oncologists give
drug treatments to destroy cancer cells that may have
spread beyond the main tumor. Surgeons and radiation
oncologists provide treatment to the skin, lymph nodes,
and sometimes other organs. A pathologist is a doctor
who’s an expert in testing cells and tissues for disease. A
dermatopathologist is a doctor who’s an expert in testing
skin cells and tissues for disease.
Your primary care doctor can also be part of your team.
He or she can help you express your feelings about
treatment to the team. Treatment of other medical
problems may be improved if he or she is informed of
your cancer care. Besides doctors, you may receive care
from nurses, social workers, and other health experts.
Ask to have the names and contact information of your
health providers included in the treatment plan.
There is no single treatment practice that is best for all
patients. There is often more than one treatment option,
including clinical trials. Treatment planning takes into
account many factors, such as:
• The cancer stage,
• Location(s) of the tumor,
• Your general health,
• Treatment side effects,
• Costs of treatment,
• Changes to your life,
• What you want from treatment, and
• Your feelings about side effects.
A guide to treatment options can be found in Part 6.
The cancer treatment that you agree to have should be
reported in the treatment plan. It is also important to note
the goal of treatment and the chance of a good treatment
response. In addition, all known side effects should be
listed and the time required to treat them should
Your treatment plan may change because of new
information. You may change your mind about treatment.
Tests may find new results. How well the treatment is
working may change. Any of these changes may require
a new treatment plan.