What Is A Cancer Treatment Plan?

Posted on June 17, 2022 in Cancer Treatments

Written by Dr. Corso

Learn more about the author

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.

What Is a Cancer Treatment Plan?

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. Download our free Cancer Treatment Plan for ways to track your journey.

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. 


Treatment Planning

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.


Treatment Scheduling

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 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).


How to Use a Cancer Treatment Plan

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.

Personal care guidelines are one aspect of your treatment plan and are crucial to your emotional and physical well-being. They may cover resources for finding support groups or methods for alleviating side effects, such as:

  • Get plenty of rest: Many patients experience fatigue during radiation therapy, so it is important to make sure you are well rested.
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet: With certain types of treatment, it may be necessary to modify your diet to receive essential vitamins and minerals, and minimize side effects. You should not attempt to lose weight during radiation therapy, since you require more calories due to your cancer and treatment.
  • Treat the skin that is exposed to radiation with extra care: Cleanse the skin daily, avoid using lotions in the treatment areas, and protect the treated area from hot or cold temperatures.
  • Seek out emotional support: At times, it may help to talk about your feelings with a close friend, family member, nurse, social worker or psychologist. To find a support group in your area, ask your radiation oncology nurse.


Other than these guidelines, 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
  • Details regarding your care, such as who to contact in case of an emergency
  • Financial and insurance 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 or cancer doctor, 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 health 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 cancer 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.