NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Kidney Cancer, Version 1.2017
Making treatment decisions
It’s your choice | Questions to ask
Cancer can be very stressful. While
absorbing the fact that you have cancer,
you must also learn about tests and
treatments. And, the time you have to
decide on a treatment plan may feel short.
Parts 1 through 5 aimed to teach you
about kidney cancer, its treatment, and
other challenges. Part 6 aims to help you
talk with your doctor and make treatment
decisions that are right for you.
It’s your choice
The role patients want in choosing their treatment
differs. You may feel uneasy about making treatment
decisions. 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 feel uneasy
because you don’t know much about cancer. You’ve
never heard the words used to describe cancer,
tests, or treatments. Likewise, you may think that
your judgment isn’t any better than your doctors’.
Letting others decide which option is best may make
you feel more at ease. However, whom do you
want to make the decisions? You may rely on your
doctors alone to make the right decisions. However,
your doctors may not tell you which to choose if you
have multiple good options. 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, your treatment team may still ask that
you sign a consent form.
On the other hand, you may want to take the lead or
share in decision-making. In shared decision-making,
you and your doctors share information, discuss the
options, and agree on a treatment plan. Your doctors
know the science behind your plan but you know
your concerns and goals. By working together, you
can decide on a plan that works best for you when it
comes to your personal and health needs.
Questions to ask your doctors
You will likely meet with experts from different
fields of medicine. It is helpful to talk with each
person. Prepare questions before your visit and ask
questions if the information isn’t clear. You can also
get copies of your medical records. It may be helpful
to have a family member or friend with you at these
visits to listen carefully and even take notes. A patient
advocate or navigator might also be able to come.
They can help you ask questions and remember
what was said.
The questions below are suggestions for information
you read about in this book. Feel free to use these
questions or come up with your own personal
questions to ask your doctor and other members of
your treatment team.