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Who is looking after me?

You will be looked after by a multi-disciplinary team (MDT). This team will involve all of the people caring for you.

The MDT meets up regularly to discuss your care and treatment, review test results and recommend treatment plans.

Who’s who in the team looking after you

The main hospital staff you will come across will be:

  • Oncologists: An oncologist is a doctor who specialises in cancer treatment. Depending on your treatment plan you will meet:

    • A gynaecological oncologist who is in charge of your operation or surgery. In these pages we use the term 'surgeon'.
    • A medical oncologist who organises chemotherapy or targeted treatments. Oncologists are sometimes referred to as clinical or medical oncologists but in these pages we refer to this person as an 'oncologist'.
  • Gynae-oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS): A CNS in gynae-oncology is a senior nurse who has had extra training to look after women with gynaecological cancers, such as ovarian cancer. In some areas you may be cared for by a gynaecology nurse or a Macmillan nurse. Your nurse should help you to navigate your way throughout the healthcare system from your diagnosis onwards. Your relationship with your nurse can transform your care. Throughout these pages, we refer to your nurse as your CNS.

Watch this video interview with Debbie Fitzgerald, a CNS, to get a better idea of how your CNS will support you:

 

  • Chemotherapy nurse: Depending on your treatment plan, your chemotherapy nurse will help you through your chemotherapy treatment and any side effects you may experience.

Who should I speak to if I have questions or problems?

The main person looking after your care and treatment. This person is known as your key worker and is usually a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). You should be given contact details for your key worker so you can get in touch with questions or problems. 

Making decisions about your treatment

Three women talkingSome women have detailed discussions about treatment choices, while others prefer to ask their oncologist to recommend an option. You may find yourself caught up in a medical whirlwind, talking with health professionals about what happens next. Take a moment and think about what you want, making sure you have the information you need to make any decisions or choices put to you.

Whatever your feelings it can be useful to share your thoughts about the following with your oncologist or Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS):

  • How much do you want to know?
  • When do you want to know it?
  • How do you want to make your decisions? Do you like time to absorb information, or need to talk it through with others first?
  • Is the expectation/intention of the treatment that you will achieve a cure, control of the cancer or manage symptoms?

The key decisions

Key decisions about treatment options include where to have your treatment, the timing of surgery and/or types and timing of chemotherapy and other drugs. Asking some of the following questions may help you decide what you want to do:

  • Where can I be treated?
  • What treatment options are available?
  • Would a different specialist centre offer me other treatment options?
  • What are the benefits of a particular treatment and what is the evidence that it is effective?
  • What are the risks involved in having the treatment now and in the long term?
  • Are there potential side effects? How long are these side effects expected to last? What might help to reduce, control or recover from these side effects?
  • Will I be able to go on holiday?
  • When will I be able to return to work?
  • How might the treatment affect me physically and sexually?
  • Am I eligible for clinical trials at this centre or any other centre?

Know that you can ask for help

Your CNS has a special role to play to make sure your views are represented so let them know how you feel, and what is affecting your decision-making. This may well include things that are going on outside the hospital, in your home or work life.

It might help to take along a friend or family member, particularly one who is calm and listens to you. Talk them through what you want to know and ask them to write down the answers to questions you ask. Health professionals might slip into medical jargon – just ask them to explain it another way.

Second opinions

After discussing treatment options with your oncologist, you might still feel uncertain about how to proceed. If you wish to get a second opinion, just ask. Your CNS or your GP should be able to advise you on how to go about this, and your oncologist should be happy to refer you. 

In England, you can find and compare NHS cancer services near you at MyCancerTreatment.nhs.uk. The reports available on My Cancer Treatment provide information to help you decide where to go for your cancer treatment, or seek a second opinion. Type your postcode, cancer type or hospital into the Find Your Treatment search box.

Find out more

This content is primarily taken from What happens next? 

What happens next?

Our expert guide answers your questions following a diagnosis, providing information on everything from treatment to taking care of yourself, and advice on where to find support in the months ahead.

The information on this page is approved by the Information Standard scheme to ensure that it provides accurate and high-quality information.

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Last reviewed: November 2016
Next review: October 2019