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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.