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Making decisions

Making a choice between treatment options doesn't just require a health professional's expert knowledge and surgical skills - it also needs consideration of your characteristics, lifestyle and personal preferences. In most cases your surgeon won't be knowledgeable about these personal issues and the best way to get a good health outcome is to share the decision making with your health professional.

If you have any concerns about specific issues such as wanting to avoid certain complications or side-effects or needing to return to normal activities quickly because of work or family demands, you should discuss them with your doctor. You can ask your doctor the following three simple questions:

1. What are my treatment options?

2. What are the expected outcomes for each option including complications?

3. What is the likelihood each outcome will occur, including success and complications?

In almost all cases there is more than one treatment option, including watchful waiting. This is when you don’t have treatment straight away but monitor your condition closely instead to see whether it can resolve without treatment – but if it does deteriorate you can proceed to treatment quickly. Watchful waiting can be appropriate when the condition is one in which the likelihood of successful treatment is relatively low and there are significant risks or side effects associated with the treatment that can make your overall condition worse.

Once you have the information about your treatment options and likely outcomes you can weigh up the benefits and risks to decide what is the right treatment for you.

Next: Preparing for surgery

This information has been developed and reviewed for Bupa by health professionals. To the best of their knowledge it is current and based on reputable sources of medical research. It should be used as a guide only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.

Bupa Australia Pty Ltd makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. Bupa Australia is not liable for any loss or damage you suffer arising out of the use of or reliance on the information. Except that which cannot be excluded by law. We recommend that you consult your doctor or other qualified health professional if you have questions or concerns about your health. For more details on how we produce our health content, visit the About our health information page.

Last published 31 October 2011

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