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Making Medical Decisions That Work for You

Shared decision-making is a collaborative process that allows patients and their healthcare teams to make decisions together. This process takes into consideration the most up-to-date clinical information and research in addition to the patient’s goals, preferences, and values. It also brings experts together in the planning of your care. The healthcare team has its experts in medicine and ovarian cancer treatment, and you are an expert on your own personal feelings and what is important to you.

Becoming part of the shared decision-making process

While you may not feel like an expert, you are an expert on yourself! It is important to recognize that you have a voice in the decision-making process. While it is important to be involved in all aspects of your healthcare to the level you are comfortable, shared decision-making is most appropriate in situations in which there is more than 1 medical option available.1

The process helps to ensure that patients are fully informed of all of their options, including the risks and benefits of these options, and that the things that are most important to the patient are taken into consideration.

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What questions should be asked?

After an ovarian cancer diagnosis, you may feel overwhelmed and in a daze. It can be hard to fully absorb all of the information that is being presented to you. Asking questions can help to ensure that you and your healthcare team are on the same page. Below are some questions that may help:

About diagnosis

  • What type of ovarian cancer do I have?
  • Should I get a second opinion?
  • Are there any other diagnostic tests I should have?
  • What is the stage of my ovarian cancer?
  • Has my ovarian cancer spread to any other parts of my body?

About treatment

  • What treatment options are available for my type of ovarian cancer?
  • What are the pros and cons of these treatments?
  • What can I expect from treatment?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital during treatment?
  • How long will treatment last, and how often will I receive treatment?
  • What is the goal of my treatment?
  • How do you determine if treatment is working?
  • What happens if the treatment is not working?
  • Does my insurance cover this treatment?
  • Who is part of my care team? What are they responsible for?
  • Are clinical trials an option for me?
  • Where can I learn more or get support to make the right decision for me?
  • Will this treatment affect my fertility or chances of starting a family in the future?

Other important questions

  • How often will I have appointments and/or scans?
  • Who should I contact if I have questions between appointments?
  • Who handles health insurance and payment questions in this office?
  • What symptoms or side effects are considered emergency symptoms?
  • What happens when my treatment course is completed?
  • Are there special resources I should be aware of (such as support groups or financial resources or programs)?
  • Are there any resources to help me or my family cope?

Other considerations to keep in mind

Each person and each case of ovarian cancer is different. What matters most is that you feel comfortable with your care team and your treatment plan. Asking questions is an important part of managing your care and ensuring you and your care team have decided on the best plan for you!

The questions you choose to ask will be unique to your situation, and, just as your needs and priorities may fluctuate, your questions may change over time.

What questions have you found to be helpful? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

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