Shared Decision-Making - My CancerJourney

Shared decision-making and value-based care are emerging approaches to obtaining additional value from patient care. Shared decision-making is the process of interacting with patients who wish to be involved in arriving at an informed, values-based choice among two or more medically reasonable alternatives. It attempts to stimulate collaborative discussion between physicians and patients to better align the pursued outcomes with the patient’s needs. Values-based care is care that is sensitive to the individual preferences and values of the patient. It is based on the idea that, to maximize effectiveness and efficiency, funds ought to be allocated so that they create the most value for the patient.

A significant medical diagnosis is a terrifying experience. Treatment choices are complex, with profound implications on finances and quality of life. There are often several different treatment options depending on the age of the patient, overall health. Often, alternative treatment options are available, as well. Every option has trade-offs such as survival, side effects, and cost. As a result, no treatment recommendation is right for every patient, making recommendations difficult for physicians. Patients are left to make the difficult personal and emotional choices about survival, treatment choices, quality of life, and cost.

Every person with cancer is unique, yet our system is largely based on “one size fits all” treatment protocols.

New Approaches to Making Intensely Personal Decisions

Some medical decisions are uncomplicated because there is one best treatment; a broken leg for example. For diagnoses like cancer, in which there is not one clear course of treatment, shared decision-making can ensure the treatment choice best aligns with patients’ preferences and values.

Shared decision-making provides numerous benefits for patients, clinicians, and the healthcare system at large. These benefits include more educated patients, less anxiety over the care process, improved health outcomes, reduction in unnecessary treatment and treatment costs, and a more personalized care experience.

Healthcare decisions are deeply personal choices. As such, patients want their values and preferences to weigh heavily into their treatment.

Shared Decision-Making and its Purpose in Healthcare

Shared decision-making is the process of interacting with patients who wish to be involved in their treatment choices. Shared decisions are informed, values-based choices, made by a patient and their physician, between two or more medically reasonable alternatives. Shared decision-making creates an intersection between the clinicians’ expertise and the patients’ intuitions about their circumstances and goals of care.

SDM is not intended to tell Healthcare Providers How They Should be Practicing Medicine

Because SDM is only information, it cannot provide guidance by itself. It is meant to complement, not replace, clinical judgment that is tailored to individual patients. Shared decision-making is not a clinical practice guideline, it does not replace clinical practice guidelines, and it does not make clinical practice recommendations.

Evidence for Benefits of SDM and Decision Aids

Studies also illustrate the potential for wider adoption of shared decision-making to reduce costs. Consistently as many as 20% of patients who participate in shared decision-making choose less invasive surgical options and more conservative treatment compared to patients who do not use decision aids.

In studies performed between 2000 and 2014, 71% of respondents said they preferred sharing decision making. 80% of patients say they want their healthcare provider to listen to them, but only 60% reported that they actually listened, with less than half claiming that their doctor asked them about their goals and concerns. Patients who participated in SDM are three to five times more satisfied with their clinicians.

MyCancerJourney is intended to be an aid in the decision-making process. Board-certified patient advocates assist patients in understanding their diagnosis and prognosis, while preparing them for shared-decision making conversations with their physicians. This collaborative approach leads to greater patient satisfaction and compliance. For more information on MyCancerJourney’s navigation and support services, that assist with SDM, contact MyCancerJourney at or by phone at 737.307.0077.

Personalized Cancer Treatment

You may be familiar with the term “personalized medicine.” This means that your treatment will be tailored to your genes and the nature of your disease. The information for how your cells should increase and change over time is stored in your genes. Specific genes are involved in or affected by many types of cancer.

Studying human genes and cancer genes have led to personalized cancer medicine’s development and the insights gained from these studies have contributed to developing more potent therapeutics. Additionally, they have used genetic data to create cancer diagnostic and prevention tools.

Comparatively, fewer adverse effects have been reported with personalized cancer treatment. That’s because it was made with precision in mind. Cancer cells may be harmed less by a personalized treatment plan from providers like MyCancerJourney.


Aspects Of Personalized Cancer Treatment

You and your doctor can create a unique strategy for detecting and treating cancer. This could involve:

  • Determining your cancer risk and selecting the appropriate screening tests can save your life.
  • Treatment is tailored to the patient and cancer. It’s possible that this would have a greater impact with less effect on the body.
  • The ability to estimate the likelihood of a recurrence of cancer. The medical term for this is “recurrence risk.”


The Future Of Personalized Cancer Medicine

Cancer patients could experience fewer adverse effects from treatment thanks to advances in personalized cancer medicine. However, obstacles remain. Here are some of them:

  • Unfortunately, not every form of cancer can be treated individually.
  • Clinical trials are the only way to get access to personalized treatments.
  • The cost of genetic testing varies. Not all insurance policies cover the cost. Moreover, there is a significant time lag between initiating gene and tumor analysis. This may cause a delay in receiving the individualized care you desire.
  • Targeted treatments, one type of personalized treatment, tend to be more costly.


Examples Of Personalized Cancer Treatment

The following are some applications of personalized cancer treatments:

Cancers that rely on specific genes or proteins for their growth and survival are the ones that benefit most from targeted treatments. Every year, scientists discover novel therapeutic cancer targets. New drugs are developed and evaluated for these targets. Targeted treatments are available for some patients with the following cancers:

  • Brain cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • A gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Other

The tumor-shrinking and life-saving effects of the personalized approach are superior to those of conventional treatment. However, it is not always effective. Due to the heterogeneous nature of tumors, targeted therapies targeting cells with one mutation could be effective on a subset of tumors. The surviving cells may be able to continue dividing. By discussing this method with your doctor, see if it is right for you.

For information on our cancer navigation and support services, get in touch with MyCancerJourney via this Online Form, or give us a call at 737.307.0077, and we will get back to you within the shortest possible time.