NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Melanoma, Version 1.2014
Your role in planning
The role patients want in treatment planning
differs. Some patients want to be involved as little
as possible. Others want to know everything and
share decision-making with their doctors. These two
roles are described as passive and active. Tell your
treatment team which role you want or if you want a
role somewhere in the middle.
In a passive role, a person often doesn’t seek out
information, speak up for himself or herself, or think
through treatment options. This may be due to a high
level of stress. It may be hard to hear or know what
others are saying. Stress, pain, and drugs can limit
your ability to make good decisions. You may also
want a passive role because you don’t know much
about cancer. You may have never heard the words
used to describe melanoma, tests, or treatments.
Likewise, you may think that your judgement isn’t any
better than your doctors’.
Letting others decide your treatment may make you
feel more at ease. But, whom do you want to make
the decisions? You may rely on your doctors alone
to make the right decisions. You can also have loved
ones help. They can gather information, speak on
your behalf, and share in decision-making with your
doctors. Even if others decide which treatment you
will receive, you still have to agree by signing a
In an active role, a person often searches for all
information, prepares for all outcomes, and speaks up
for himself or herself. He or she may take the lead or
share in decision-making. Taking this role may make
you feel more certain and hopeful. You’ll likely get the
treatment you want, at the place you want, and by the
doctors you want.
There are four key steps to shared decision-making.
First, know what you want from treatment. Do
you want cancer control or symptom relief? What
hardships are you willing to accept to meet your goal?
Second, know your test results. This information can
pinpoint what’s important for you on websites and
in books and brochures. It can also clarify which
treatments are needed. Third, strive to have helpful
talks with your doctor. Prepare questions before your
visit and ask questions if your doctor isn’t clear. You
can also record your talks and get copies of your
medical records. Fourth, accept help from others.
An active role doesn’t mean going through it alone.
Others can help you be active by finding information,
taking notes, asking questions, and helping you talk
through your options.
Making treatment decisions
Your role in planning