There are many treatment options for stomach cancer which include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, clinical trials and complimentary therapy. You will have many questions as you discuss your options. When possible, ask your team to provide you with a written resource that summarizes the treatment options or use the internet or patient resource library (found in large cancer centres) to decide the best treatment for you. Stay involved in treatment decisions, do not be afraid to voice your concerns and make a joint decision.
1. What are my treatment options? What do you recommend
Rationale: There are many treatment options available for stomach cancer. Scientific findings guide your healthcare team to recommend one choice over another. The recommended treatment will depend on the patient, the tumor, the healthcare teams' level of experience, knowledge about clinical trials and the resources available in your area.
2. What are the risks and benefits associated with each treatment option?
Rationale: Every treatment option has unique survival benefits, side effects and associated complications. Make sure to weigh these options and decide what is best for you and your family.
3. How can I mitigate side-effects with my chosen treatment plan?
Rationale: You cannot mitigate all side effects, however your healthcare team may be able to provide resources and information that will make treatment easier.
4. What treatment side-effects are most common? Which side effects are rare but require emergency assessment?
Rationale: Your healthcare team will educate you on which side effects are common during your treatment. Be aware of the common side effects and understand how they present. For example, if a common side-effect is neuropathy, understand what this term means and how it presents. It is important to know which uncommon symptoms are serious but warrant a trip to the emergency department.
5. What are the effects of treatment on family planning?
Rationale: Some treatment options may compromise your fertility and ability to breastfeed. If future fertility is important to you, you may need to take action to preserve your fertility. Have this conversation with your healthcare team before starting treatment.
6. Where can I get help when the clinic is closed?
Rationale: In rare instances you may need medical assistance after hours. Your healthcare team should provide you with a contact sheet which will include important telephone numbers, including who to call in an emergency.
7. What financial resources are available to a person in my situation?
Rationale: Most cancer treatments are covered under the universal healthcare act for Canadians with a valid health card. Additional medications may be covered by personal health insurance plans, ODB and ODSP. If you do not have a drug plan, your healthcare team can refer you to financial aid services that can help you get access to medications. If you have other financial concerns, a social worker can help connect you to resources.