Consent for Surgery

Giving your consent

Before you have any treatment your doctor will explain the aims of the treatment to you and you will usually be asked to sign a form saying that you give your permission (consent) for the hospital staff to treat you. No medical treatment can be given without your consent, and before you are asked to sign the form you should have been given full information about:

  • the type and extent of the treatment you are advised to have
  • the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment
  • any other treatments that may be available
  • any significant risks or side effects of the treatment.

If you do not understand what you have been told, let the staff know straight away so that they can explain again. Some cancer treatments are complex, so it is not unusual for people to need their treatment to be explained more than once.

Patients often feel that the hospital staff are too busy to answer their questions, but it is important for you to be aware of how the treatment is likely to affect you and the staff should be willing to make time for you to ask questions.

You can always ask for more time to decide about the treatment, if you feel that you canít make a decision when it is first explained to you. You are also free to choose not to have the treatment. The staff can explain what may happen if you do not have it. It is essential to tell a doctor, or the nurse in charge, so that they can record your decision in your medical notes. You do not have to give a reason for not wanting to have treatment, but it can be helpful to let the staff know your concerns so that they can give you the best advice.

Second opinion

A number of cancer specialists work together as a team to decide the most suitable treatment for each patient. Even so, you may want to have another medical opinion. Most doctors will be willing to refer you to another specialist for a second opinion, if you feel it will be helpful. The second opinion may cause a delay in the start of your treatment, so you and your doctor need to be confident that it will provide useful information. If you decide to have a second opinion, it may be a good idea to take a friend or relative with you, and to have a list of questions ready, so that you can make sure your concerns are covered during the discussion.

Talking about treatment

Remember to ask questions about any aspects of your treatment that you donít understand or you feel worried about. You may find it helpful to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of each option with your cancer specialist, a specialist gynaecological nurse at the hospital or with the Cancer Backup trained nurses.

If you have any questions about your treatment, donít be afraid to ask your doctor or nurse. It often helps to make a list of questions and to take a close friend or relative with you

Treatment Planning

Treatment planning with your Consultant

Your doctor will plan your treatment by taking into consideration a number of factors, including the type of cancer, its position and size, whether it has spread (stage) and your general health. Cancer specialists follow national guidelines for treating vulval cancer.

The treatment you have will be based on the guidelines, but tailored to your particular situation.

Sometimes you may be asked to take part in a clinical trial of a new treatment.

If you have any questions about your treatment, donít be afraid to ask your doctor or nurse. It often helps to make a list of questions for your doctor and to take a close friend or relative with you. They can remind you of questions you wanted to ask, and afterwards help you remember what the doctor said.

It's a good idea to write 2 copies of your question so you can pass one to your Consultant and keep one for you and your partner, this way you will be sure you will not miss any important questions as you can work through them together.