One of the biggest challenges for people with cancer is sorting through treatment options. As the science of treating cancer has advanced, researchers have developed better and more effective treatments. This means patients have more choices than they did a few decades ago or even a few years ago.
One of the reasons why making choices can so often be overwhelming and confusing is the vast amount of information that is available. Some of the information may be unreliable. Advertisements on television, health stories, literature available on the internet, newspapers and magazines add to the flood of information. It can be difficult to sift through everything. All this, in conjunction with your health care team and well-meaning friends and family offering opinions, can contribute to the stress people experience at times.
Here are some tips to help you better communicate with your health care team:
Recognize that as a health care consumer, it is your right to have a good health care team that listens to your questions and concerns. Get to know all the members of your team and learn how each one helps you.
Identify one person on the medical team who is in charge of your care and “funnel” all information through that person.
As you visit different websites or hear about new treatments, write down questions as they arise. At your next medical appointment, bring these questions with you so you can keep track of what you need to know.
During your medical appointments, take notes or ask a family member to take notes. Also, ask your doctor if you can record your visits. This will allow you to go back later and listen carefully to all the information presented by your doctor.
Ask your doctor to recommend additional resources and information on your diagnosis and treatment. For tips on evaluating websites, see the sidebar on the right.
Find trustworthy educational programs about your cancer. CancerCare offers free educational materials from experts on a range of cancer diagnoses and topics.