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Breast Cancer In Situ: Managing Your Medical Care: Diagnosis To Treatment Decision

Decide Who You Want To Make Medical Decisions.

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Who makes medical decisions is up to you. It is your body and your life.  

As you decide who makes medical decisions for you care, consider the following:

  • There is no right or wrong when it comes to who makes medical decisions.
  • Medicine is a combination of science and art.. Medical decisions may not be as clear cut as you would like. There may be different medical treatments available. There may be a need to change a medical decision as facts change. There may be gray areas. 
  • There are four alternatives when it comes to who makes medical decisions. The alternatives are:
    • A doctor or other medical professional
    • You
    • A person you choose to make the decision for you (such as a spouse, parent or child)
    • A combination of all of the above
  • By and large, cancer doctors today understand that:
    • Their role is to present information and advice for patients - not to make all the decisions for them. 
    • It is the patient's role to make the decision, after consultation with their doctor.  
  • People who are the most active participants in their health care tend to do better. The ultimate active patient is the decision maker.
  • If you are the decision maker, it does not mean that you have to make a decision alone. In addition to your cancer doctor's opinion:
    • As noted elsewhere in this document, consider getting a second opinion. 
    • Speak with family members and friends whose opinion you value. 
    • Speak with your primary care doctor. 


  • Doctors today are generally okay with either the patient or the doctor making the big medical decisions. If your doctor insists on making the decision,and that is not what you want, find another doctor. (See "To Learn More.")
  • If you want someone else to make medical decisions for you, expect that the doctor will require you to sign a document allowing him or her to disclose your medical information to that person. This is because of the confidentiality requirements in the federal law known as HIPAA.
  • You can continue to have control over medical decisions even if you become unable to communicate through legal documents known together as "Advance Healthcare Directives" or simply "Advance Directives." A Living Will is the advance directive we hear about most often. This subject is discussed in the category: Planning Ahead.

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