Treatment Planning at HCG
Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. However, a detailed treatment plan helps you have a streamlined approach towards your treatment. In other words, a treatment plan serves as a blueprint for your cancer journey.
Treatment planning involves the creation of a detailed document that will carry information on your medical condition, diagnostic reports, possible treatment options, the goal of treatment, possible side effects, the expected treatment duration and lastly, the prognosis of the treatment.
While planning a patient’s cancer care, it is not just treatment and follow-up that we focus on. We touch every aspect of that patient’s cancer journey starting from the first conversation about the diagnosis to managing his/her anxiety and other psychosocial issues to providing a continuum of care throughout his/her life.
At HCG, we plan treatments with a patient-centric approach. This helps us ensure that our clinical decisions lead to positive outcomes while also aligning with the needs and preferences of the patients and their caregivers.
How treatment plans are created
After you decide to receive treatment at HCG, a detailed, personalised treatment plan will be created for you. This treatment plan comprises the following information:
- Complete details of your diagnosis
- Results from additional tests, namely blood tests, biomarker tests, genetic tests, imaging (MRI, PET CT, X-rays, etc), biopsies, etc.
- The type of treatment that will be administered, such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, bone marrow transplant, etc.
- The goal of treatment
- The treatment doses, the mode of administration (for systemic therapies and radiation therapy), the expected treatment duration and the frequency of cycles (chemotherapy) or sessions (radiation therapy) along with the interval between the two treatments, if any.
- Possible short-term and long-term side effects
- Supportive treatments that might be put in place, which include, pain management, rehabilitation, dietary intervention, psychological intervention, etc.
- Financial aspects of your treatment
Following are the key aspects of treatment planning at HCG:
Before undergoing treatment, it is important for you to understand your diagnosis. Various aspects such as the type of your cancer, the stage, the grade, if you have more time for a second opinion or if you have to start the treatment immediately, etc., will be explained when your diagnosis is discussed.
Although self-research may help, it is always better for you to discuss your reports or any concerns pertaining to your diagnosis with an expert.
Understanding the goal of treatment is the first step of creating a treatment plan. This helps you and your doctor estimate the possible outcome of the treatment given.
One of the following could be the goal for the treatment administered:
- Curing the disease i.e., destroying cancer cells throughout the body
- Preventing the relapse or delaying the progression of primary cancer
- Alleviating the symptoms, such as pain, caused by cancer
Next, your doctor will be explaining the possible treatment options that you have, elaborating how each treatment works and discussing the treatment prognosis along with the possible side effects that are associated with the treatment. Treatment options are suggested based on the following factors:
- Your cancer type
- The stage and grade of cancer
- Data from the existing diagnostic reports
- Additional information from the latest diagnostic reports
- Your overall health
- Your existing medical conditions other than cancer, if any
- Your personal preferences
Following are the possible treatment options for cancers:
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Stem cell transplantation (bone marrow transplantation)
Patients with a poor prognosis may consider clinical trials. Clinical trials are usually conducted to study a particular treatment method’s efficacy on patients. These treatment methods could be new ones or the ones that are already approved for a particular cancer type. To get a better understanding of the safety and possible side effects associated with the clinical trials, patients must talk to their doctors.
Palliative care is another treatment option that supports symptom management in patients with advanced-stage cancers and among those who are looking for a peaceful end of life experience. The primary goal of palliative care is to help patients have a better quality of life until the end.
Throughout your cancer journey, you may have plenty of questions. Please ensure to ask them without any hesitation as it will help you understand your cancer journey the best way possible. Following are some of the important questions that you may ask your doctor before the treatment begins:
- What is my diagnosis?
- Has my cancer spread to other organs?
- What are my treatment options?
- What are the treatment benefits that I can expect?
- How long does my treatment last?
- What is my long-term prognosis?
- What are the possible side effects associated with my treatment?
- How will my treatment affect my normal activities like work, domestic chores, exercise and travel?
- Will my treatment affect my fertility?
- How should I prepare for my treatment?
These questions will help you understand your cancer journey better and make informed health decisions.
There could be other questions and concerns too. We suggest you make a quick list of questions you have and ask them during one of your meetings with your doctor or expert team.
Following are some of the important things that you will be asked to bring along with you for your treatment plan discussion:
- Your medical reports
- Details on underlying medical conditions, if any
- The list of questions that you would want to ask
Some patients decide to go with the recommended treatment plan right away, while some choose to go for a second opinion to explore additional treatment options.
Once you decide to proceed with the treatment plan, you will be requested to sign a consent form. Signing the consent form implies that you are aware of the benefits and risks associated with the treatment and have decided to proceed with it.
Once the treatment begins, the expert team ensures that the treatment is given as per the schedule and treatment response is consistently monitored.
Your doctor may ask you to undergo additional tests throughout your treatment course to monitor your body’s response to the treatment given. If the test results are not as expected, the treatment plan will be altered accordingly.
The treatment plans may be adjusted several times throughout the treatment. Before every adjustment or modification, your doctor will ensure to inform you and your caregivers and proceed only after your consent.