Treating cancer can involve a number of different specialists, medical practices, and caregivers. It’s important that every person involved in the process fully understands the patient’s cancer, treatments, symptoms, and goals. That is why SERO recommends all our patients maintain an updated cancer treatment plan.
A written cancer treatment plan outlines all aspects of a patient’s cancer and treatments. This ensures every provider and caretaker understands the patient’s history and goals and can provide treatment accordingly.
When you are diagnosed with cancer, your first step is to choose your treatment options. Doing so may involve the opinions of multiple specialists, friends, and loved ones.
Once you decide on a treatment or treatments, you and your doctors will plan and schedule them. These planning and scheduling decisions make up your treatment plan.
When treatment planning, your doctors will carefully consider the type and stage of your cancer and your goals for treatment. With this information, they will identify the frequency and duration of your treatments, as well as the exact dose for each session.
When treatment scheduling, your doctors will consider your treatment planning (above) and timing in order to develop a schedule for treatment. Timing may include medical considerations, like treatment effectiveness. It may also include your personal needs, such as transportation availability.
Your treatment planning and scheduling will serve as the structure for your cancer treatment plan. Your cancer treatment plan is essentially a written roadmap for your cancer treatment. In addition to details about your cancer and your plan for treatment, it also includes important details about your experience, like symptoms and goals.
Usually, a cancer treatment plan is created by your cancer care team. It is then shared with anyone else involved in your cancer care, such as specialists or caregivers. Sharing a cancer plan helps keep everyone informed of a patient’s plan and progress to ensure the correct treatment is always given. It’s also important to update a treatment plan as things change, including treatment schedules and symptoms.
What Does a Cancer Treatment Plan Include?
Cancer treatment plans outline four distinct aspects of a cancer patient’s experience: general information, diagnosis, treatment plan, and symptoms. Your cancer plan may also include:
Specific information regarding your cancer, like its stage and location
Test results like x-rays, blood tests, genetic testing, tumor marker tests, or biomarker tests
Details regarding your different treatments
The schedule for your treatments
Common side effects of each treatment, both short and long term
Information regarding how to manage these side effects, as well as supportive therapies like pain medicine or physical therapy
Additional resources for your mental and emotional well-being, like support groups
Details regarding your care, such as who to contact in case of an emergency
Financial and insurance information
How Is a Treatment Plan Made?
Your treatment plan is the result of collaboration. Many doctors, specialists, caregivers, and friends and family members may contribute to planning your treatment. Once you decide together on the best treatment approach, the doctors and specialists will identify a plan to execute that treatment(s).
Usually your cancer care team uses this information to write out your cancer treatment plan. However, you may also access a Cancer Treatment Plan Template here and fill in the information.
Why Do I Need a Cancer Treatment Plan?
A cancer treatment plan is a valuable tool for cancer patients, as well as their doctors and caregivers. There are many benefits of a cancer treatment plan:
Informed Cancer Care Team
There will likely be many specialists involved in the treatment of your cancer, including an oncologist, radiation oncologist, surgeon, pathologist, and all of their teams. Others involved in your care may include a case manager, rehabilitation specialist, palliative care specialist, pharmacist, social worker, and dietitian.
Understanding your cancer and treatment intentions is integral for each of these members of your care team. A detailed, updated cancer treatment plan ensures all of these professionals can effectively contribute to your cancer treatment.
Informed Doctors Outside of Your Cancer Care
Your cancer is almost certainly your priority right now, but it may not be your only one. It’s important to maintain your health outside of your cancer, especially if you have preexisting conditions.
You should share your cancer treatment plan with your general practitioner, as well as any specialists you see for other medical problems. This will help them to adjust their own treatments effectively.
Planning and Scheduling Care
As mentioned above, your cancer treatment plan will include your schedule for treatments. By having this in writing, you can plan with members of your family, friends, and even your employer.
You can use your treatment plan to ensure you’ll have the support you need. For example, you can use your cancer treatment plan to schedule rides to and from treatment, take time off work, or ask for help with symptoms from caregivers.
Identifying Community Resources
Sometimes your cancer treatment plan can help you identify holes in your scheduling and planning. For example, your treatment schedule may not align with your spouse’s time off. Luckily, there are community resources that can help patients in times of need.
If transportation, lodging, or care pose a problem, a detailed cancer treatment plan will help you identify and solve those issues.
Understanding Symptoms and Care Options
A cancer treatment plan will outline both short and long term symptoms and side effects you may experience with your treatments. This is valuable for a number of reasons:
It helps you prepare for those symptoms
It helps you identify any unusual symptoms you should discuss with your doctor
It may include details for how to manage these symptoms.
Understanding Your Insurance & Expenses
Finally, a cancer treatment plan can help with insurance and expenses. It’s possible that your insurance will cover all or most of your cancer treatment. However, it’s important to confirm whether this is true and, if not, how you will pay for additional expenses.
Outlining all of your treatments and communicating this to your insurance provider is the first step in developing an understanding around the potential costs of your treatment.
SERO and Your Cancer Treatment Plan
Cancer can be overwhelming, but a cancer treatment plan can help simplify the experience for both patients and their doctors.
In addition to expert specialization, the radiation oncologists at SERO are dedicated to supporting our clients. One of our greatest assets in doing so is a cancer treatment plan. Your cancer care team will likely provide a written cancer treatment plan.