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Open to Options® – A Cancer Support Community Resource

The Cancer Support Community has created a decision support counseling program called Open to Options® that can help you prepare for an appointment in which you will be making a treatment decision. The program is available in English or Spanish for people with any stage of cancer.

The service can help you get the most out of your doctor’s visit and help you talk more openly with your health care team about the things that really matter to you in your cancer treatment. In a brief one-hour session, an Open to Options® Specialist can help you develop a personal list of questions and concerns that will help you and your doctor explore your situation and develop the best treatment option for you.

We had the chance to talk with CSC’s research manager, Jamese Johnson, about Open to Options®, and this is what she had to say.

Tell me about Open to Options® and what unmet need does it serve?

Making a decision about cancer treatment can be an overwhelming experience for many people. Important decisions need to be made about treatment for new or recurrent cancer as well as ending treatment. Sometimes it is hard to know what questions to ask the doctor. One proven strategy for getting the most out of your visit is to be as prepared as possible. Having a written list of questions can help you feel more organized and comfortable in asking the questions you need to have answered as you work together with your doctor to make a decision about which treatment is right for you.

As you look at all the treatment options with your doctor and your family, you will need to determine what you can realistically expect from treatment. Talk with your doctor to better understand your type and stage of cancer as well as the best goal of treatment for you. A goal of treatment may be cure, slowing or controlling tumor growth, or extending your life while maintaining quality of life. Some cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, can have difficult side effects. It’s important for you to weigh the benefits and the challenges, and make a decision that is best for you.

The Cancer Support Community has a decision support counseling program called Open to Options® that can help you prepare for an appointment in which you will be making a treatment decision. The program is available in English or Spanish for people with any stage of cancer.

Who is this service for- patients, care partners, and/or families? How would they use it?

This service is primarily meant for patients who are considering treatment options, but family members can be included in the Open to Options® session.

How can they benefit from using Open to Options®?

The service can help you get the most out of your doctor’s visit and help you talk more openly with your health care team about the things that really matter to you in your cancer treatment. In a brief 30 minute to one-hour session, an Open to Options® Specialist can help you develop a personal list of questions and concerns that will help you and your doctor explore your situation and develop the best treatment option for you. Open to Options® has been shown to reduce distress, increase confidence in asking questions, reduce decision regret and lead to more productive consultations between the patient and the health care team, including important conversations about clinical trials.

In addition to Open to Options®, Cancer Support Community has also created Let’s Talk Treatment Options. How can patients use this resource?

Building on the success of the Cancer Support Community’s treatment decision counseling program, Open to Options®, Let’s Talk Treatment Options provides an interactive tutorial to help cancer patients build a personalized question list that outlines important questions, concerns and important goals and priorities related to treatment.

How can patients and their families learn more and get help in using the tools?

Open to Options® is available through our Cancer Support Community affiliates. Find an affiliate near you. If you are unable to find a program near you, call our Toll-Free Cancer Support Helpline, 1-888-793-9355, to speak to a helpline counselor about the program.

To learn more about Let’s Talk Treatment Options, our online tool, please check out http://www.talkingtreatment.org/