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4. Making decisions about your treatment

A wide range of treatments are available to treat cancer. These include:

  • Surgery (physical removal of the cancer cells or tumour from the body)
  • Chemotherapy (use of drugs to destroy or inhibit the growth of cells in the body)
  • Radiotherapy (use of radiation to destroy the cancer cells in a localised area)
  • Adjuvant therapy (use of  radiotherapy or chemotherapy in conjunction with surgery)

If you’re unsure about the suitability of the treatment that has been recommended to you, remember you have the right to ask for a second opinion. To do so, speak to your GP or the specialist you are currently seeing. They will provide you with a new referral and pass on your history and previous scans and/or test results.

If you live in rural South Australia, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to travel to a larger centre (often Adelaide) for treatment. Travelling for treatment can be financially challenging (e.g. the costs of accommodation, transport, phone calls and being unable to continue to work).  Also challenging are the emotional and social strains (e.g. disruptions to family life, having to have treatment in a confusing and alienating city away from support networks) and the fact that all of this often requires extensive organisation. As a result, some rural people consider putting off or refusing treatment that requires travel. If you’re considering this, it’s very important that you discuss it with your doctor and fully understand the costs and benefits of all treatment options available to you. Choosing not to travel for treatment may have a significant impact on your health and chances of survival.

For further information on what to expect with various types of tests/imaging, visit http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/ct_medicalprocedures?open&cat=Medical_procedures_-_Diagnostic_imaging .

When making decisions about your treatment, remember that there are a number of support services specifically designed to help get you to your treatment centre (in particular Adelaide) and make your stay as pleasant as possible. Being well prepared will help reduce some of your worries and anxiety.

Keep reading to find out who can help or click play below to hear some of John’s wise advice about what to expect and what to do if you need to travel to Adelaide for treatment (particularly if you  stay at one of the Cancer Council Lodges and have treatment at the Royal Adelaide Hospital). He’s done it plenty of times himself and hopes that watching this will make the process easier for you.